Local, state officials react to Biden inauguration
Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States Wednesday, succeeding former President Donald Trump following weeks of tension following a violent storming of the Capitol and the second impeachment of Trump following his alleged incitement of the Jan. 6 riots.
Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief after a peaceful inauguration.
In his inauguration speech, Biden stressed a message of unity.
“This is America’s day, this is democracy’s day,” Biden said.
“Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause – the cause of democracy.”
Biden said “we’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed. So now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transition of power as we have for more than two centuries.”
Biden directly addressed the storming of the Capitol two weeks ago. “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”
Biden called for more harmony in politics and addressed the spreading of misinformation.
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war and we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,” Biden said.
Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy called Biden’s inauguration “a great day for America. I’m looking forward to the new administration getting some positive things done, working on the pandemic, working on getting people back to work with infrastructure.”
Murphy said he expects to see “a lot of positive results from this team. God knows we need it.”
Murphy said his 99-year-old father John, who served during World War II, told his son that as far as presidents go Trump was at the bottom of the list he’s been alive for. “He’s seen a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones and he’s never seen one as bad as this,” said the mayor.
The mayor said he watched Biden’s speech and said it’s “a very uplifting day for America. You can’t help but feel proud to be an American on a day like today.”
Murphy said the inauguration showed that “the terrorists who stormed the capital – they didn’t win. The peaceful transition of power goes on. That’s the beauty of America.”
Lee County Democratic Party Chair Gabriele Spuckes said “the country is breathing a little easier.”
The storming of the Capitol “scared everybody and woke us up,” Spuckes said. “We need somebody like President Biden to unite us.”
Rob Ross, a Cape Coral Democrat and chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party Environmental Caucus who is running to chair the Cape Coral Democratic Club, said he hopes a new presidential administration will result in some action on “the discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
“Hopefully, it will be an impetus for our senators and governor to do something about the discharges that are causing red tide and other additional problems,” Ross said.
Cape Coral Councilmember Jessica Cosden, a registered Democrat, said she was “a little worried about what may happen. I was so happy to see it was a peaceful ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony. The address was inspiring.”
Cosden said she is “hoping we can come together as a country. The polarization is awful, painful and palpable. I’m just hoping we can heal and move forward.”
Cosden said the national political tension affected her campaign for council, which are non-partisan seats. “A lot of that polarization people are feeling at the national level is being felt locally,” she said.
Cosden said she was attacked through social media during her campaign for supporting racial justice and lost friends over politics. “I lost good friends over partisan issues,” she said.
Cape Coral Councilmember Jennifer Nelson, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, called Wednesday’s inauguration “very classy.”
Nelson liked Biden’s message on bipartisanship. “I hope in the next four years, there is less partisanship,” Nelson said. “I don’t think anything gets done when you are far right or far left.
Nelson said that as a woman she was proud Kamala Harris became the first female vice president.
Congressman Byron Donalds (R-Naples), who represents most of Lee County and Collier County, issued a statement on Twitter describing Inauguration Day as “a historic moment for our country and a time when all of us unite around our shared identity as Americans. Throughout our treasured history, we have witnessed the peaceful transition of power as President George Washington envisioned. I feel that attendance at this historic event truly honors our great republic.”
In a series of messages on Twitter, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) posted differing reactions to Biden’s inauguration.
He congratulated Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their election victory. “It’s time to focus on moving our nation forward and getting things done that truly serve the best interests of the American people,” he said.
Scott, who is the new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, stated Wednesday morning he would be attending the inauguration. “This ceremony is an important tradition that demonstrates the peaceful transfer of power to our people and to the world.”
By Wednesday afternoon, Scott had posted a link to a Newsweek column he posted and stated “Democrats, the media and Big Tech are trying to use the events of Jan. 6th to go after all Republicans and all Trump supporters and silence dissenting views. It is authoritarianism masquerading as the force that will keep America safe.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) stated on Twitter that “a new administration doesn’t mean we are suddenly going to Make America Normal Again. The legitimate anxieties & concerns of tens of millions of Americans must be acknowledged & addressed.”
Rubio did not attend the inauguration, stating that he was “working on addressing the remaining objections to an expedited Senate confirmation of President-Elect Biden’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence.”
The pick, Avril Hines, was appointed by an 84-10 vote. Rubio and Scott both voted to affirm the appointment of Hines.