Gov. Chris Christie, under fire from a multitude of sources, took the oath of office today to begin his second term at the state’s helm, striking a conciliatory tone with a speech that did not directly address the scandals that embroil his administration.
Christie took the oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court, before an assemblage of the state Legislature, friends and family at the War Memorial in Trenton. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno also was sworn in.
In his inauguration speech, Christie acknowledged the growing snowstorm outside, but said nothing of the Hoboken or George Washington bridge scandals gripping his administration.
“It’s only fitting that in this administration,’’ Christie said at the end of his speech, “with more hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding and disaster of the natural sort than any administration that I can remember in my lifetime, that we begin the second term in the same way.”
Christie struck a modest tone with in his speech and diverted only rarely from the prepared remarks given to reporters just before the governor spoke. He stressed the importance of bipartisanship and used the word “together' numerous times.
The speech was short on policy, but Christie did stress two points that were also central to his State of the State speech last week: educational reform and drug treatment.
Christie, who has frequently tussled with the state’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, vowed to push to narrow the achievement gap in the state’s schools.
“No matter what adult we have to offend, no matter where you came from, no matter what sacred cow we must slay, no matter how much we have to change the conventional thinking, we will no longer stand for the achievement gap which exists between our best and least educated children,” Christie said.
A longtime champion of drug treatment, Christie also spoke briefly about the importance of getting help for drug addicts, not prison.
“We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse,” Christie said. “We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable.”
Christie said the November election in which he routed Democratic challenger Barbara Buono by 22 percentage points was a mandate from New Jersey voters.
“It was the largest and loudest voice of affirmation that the people of our state have given to any direction in three decades,” Christie said.
But the election also holds the record for lowest turnout of any in state history.
Christie also made a several pitches for smaller government and references to a tax cut that eluded him in his first term.
“For those who prefer economic growth and opportunity to government redistribution and higher taxes, I say this to say to you today: Come to New Jersey. You will be welcome here.”