In their inaugural addresses Monday on St. Thomas, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach reflected on the accomplishments of their past four years in office and asked residents to “continue the journey” with them as they use that foundation to tackle long-standing challenges — among them stable and reliable energy — and find solutions for new ones born out of a global pandemic and shifting national landscape.
Addressing the impacts of climate change, limited options for interisland or regional travel and filling human resources and educational gaps exposed by the pandemic were among the “bigger picture” items touched upon by Roach, whose emotional speech also highlighted the more immediate need for the V.I. community to reconnect after two years of personal and mental anguish.
Over four years, the team has not shied away from challenges but met them head-on, and with the priorities set for the next four, Roach assured the residents filling Emancipation Garden’s grounds that he and Bryan were ready to continue with the same force with which they started.
“The Virgin Islands is a place where opportunity abounds and greatness is possible. That is not to say that there are not challenges, but it is a mindset which I have adopted, and a mindset which I ask you to join Albert and me, to join us, as we continue on a path to make the Virgin Islands the place of greatness that it has been, can be, and will be,” Roach said.
The lieutenant governor’s oath of office was administered by Chief Supreme Court Justice Rhys S. Hodge, with Roach’s mother, Iona, standing by his side.
Making a smooth transition between the two speeches, Bryan added that propelling the territory towards greatness will take a commitment by every Virgin Islander to learn, train, upgrade their skills, seek their personal best, and, where possible, exceed it. There is much left to do, and much that can be done during a second term, but taking the next step, he said, may require people to face the fears that may be holding them back.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate — our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us,” Bryan said, using the famous poem by Marianne Williamson, as recounted by Nelson Mandela, as a metaphor for impactful leadership. Knowing that “you are light, that you are great and that you have power,” whether as an individual or as a leader, is the first step toward progress, which Bryan said is “not a collective movement but a series of individual ones that move the collective.”
Every day, people in the territory call out for progress. Still, it doesn’t happen overnight — rather slowly, and starting with individual decisions that can make “the collective, the we” stronger, he said.
“Do we have the courage? Do we have the collective will to look beyond ourselves to embrace a better quality of life for all … can we stand together to stay the course and drive into an era of promise and prosperity?” Bryan asked. “I know we do.”
Hodge also administered the governor’s oath of office alongside First Lady Yolanda Bryan.
A church service at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral started the morning with the swearing-in followed by a military parade and, in the evening, the first public inaugural ball, held at Fort Christian.
Members of the governor’s cabinet, judges and magistrate and lawmakers joined Bryan and Roach’s relatives and friends seated in the bandstand and on extended platforms built by Public Works in December. The structure will remain intact for another swearing-in next week for members of the 35th Legislature.
Inauguration activities continue Tuesday on St. John, with a ceremony at noon in Frank Powell Sr. Park in Cruz Bay, followed by a reception at 1 p.m. at Meada’s Garden. All events are free and open to the public.