A year ago, maybe only two people really believed Gov. Norm Bangerter would be taking the oath of office Monday: Norm and Colleen Bangerter.
They stood together at noon in the State Capitol and accepted the enthusiastic applause of hundreds of supporters, friends and colleagues. It was a long road, filled with doubters and critics.In the heat of the campaign last summer, Colleen waited quietly outside a banquet room as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson spoke to the audience. Wilson was way ahead in the polls and many considered him a shoo-in.
A man walked by and, seeing Wilson through the doorway, said aloud, "Well, there's the governor."
"That's not the governor," Colleen said in a strong voice.
"Well, he'll soon be," replied the man, not knowing who Colleen was.
"No he won't. The governor will be the next governor," she said crisply. The man walked on, a bit puzzled, and Colleen turned back to wait for her husband who was to speak next, her eyes alight.
Monday, one part of the Bangerters' quest ended as the governor was sworn in as Utah's top executive for another four years.
Also sworn into office were Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, Attorney General R. Paul Van Dam, State Treasurer Edward T. Alter, State Auditor Tom L. Allen, and Associate Supreme Court Justices I. Daniel Stewart and Michael Zimmerman.
In his inaugural address, Bangerter told those gathered that while the wounds of the campaign should be healed, the work of leading Utah into the 1990s is just beginning.
"Never . . . never give in," Bangerter quoted Churchill as saying. "I have thought of these words many times recently," said the man who at one point was 30 points down in the polls to Wilson and faced a deadly challenge within his party by GOP heavyweight Jon Huntsman. But Huntsman got out of the race, and Bangerter rallied the last month of the campaign to nip Wilson in a three-way race, getting a plurality with 40 percent of the vote.
"Throughout my life I have learned that we appreciate most those things we work hardest to achieve. Perhaps this is one reason why I appreciate so much the opportunity that you have given me today," Bangerter said.
He said the past year has been politically heated and divisive. Issues were debated and argued like never before. "But now we must continue to move forward. Now we must focus on the principles that unite us," Bangerter said.
Many opportunities are afforded Utahns. "But it is important to realize that opportunity isn't a gift of government. It isn't something that can be doled out to the citizenry by their government. Opportunity isn't found in dependence on government. Rather, government should help people realize their goals by removing barriers and providing a solid foundation on which people can build their dreams brick by brick."
Government should provide good schools, good law enforcement, good roads, an adequate supply of clean water, a minimum of regulation and red tape, and a climate that encourages free enterprise and economic growth, Bangerter said.
"Some have said the past four years have been difficult. I won't disagree. We have faced challenges and choices that weren't always easy.
"I've learned in life that when we accept responsibility we'll find with it comes difficulties, challenges, even adversity. This is true for governors and presidents. But it is also true for businessmen, workers, parents, teachers and students."
Bangerter then told of a close friend, Blaine Beckstrom, in his West Valley City neighborhood. Beckstrom, a school teacher, has faced more problems than he has, Bangerter said: a wife struck with a paralyzing disease, the pressures of providing a livelihood and being a good father. "I have watched with admiration as he faithfully cared for his wife, Rita. Every day, at lunch time, he quietly leaves school and drives home to look in on her and care for her. Blaine and Rita have met their challenges and adversities with dignity and courage."
Bangerter said he and Colleen will try to do likewise the next four years.
"Working together, we will bring Utah not only to a new decade, but to a new threshold of opportunity. I see a new era where all Utahns, regardless of where or how they started life, can achieve an abundant life - a life of challenges, yes, but more important, a life rich with opportunities for growth and satisfaction.
"These are my goals. Together we can make them our destiny," Bangerter said.