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Spitzer takes over as New York's 54th governor

Democrat sworn in at executive mansion

With his family at his side, Gov. Eliot Spitzer is officially sworn in at the New York Governor's Mansion.  (Photo: WNYT)
With his family at his side, Gov. Eliot Spitzer is officially sworn in at the New York Governor's Mansion. (Photo: WNYT)

ALBANY, Jan. 1
By MARC HUMBERT Associated Press Writer

Democrat Eliot Spitzer, vowing to "replace delay and diversion with energy and purpose," was sworn in as New York's 54th governor during a private ceremony early Monday at the governor's mansion.

"Day one has begun," Spitzer said to a resounding cheer after being sworn in shortly after midnight Sunday. "It is a joy to be here. It will be exciting. I will do my best as the public has asked me to do."

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the oath of office to Spitzer, who was once a law clerk for Sweet.

Spitzer, New York's two-term state attorney general who gained an international status by taking on major Wall Street institutions, won the governorship on Nov. 7 with a landslide victory over former state Assembly Republican Minority Leader John Faso.

Taking over for three-term Gov. George Pataki, who did not seek re-election and is eyeing a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Spitzer inherits a state government facing significant future budget deficits and recent scandals that have caused the resignation of the state Comptroller.

After a 6 a.m. run Monday with about 150 supporters, Spitzer got to work.

Stating in a series of executive orders that "government employment is a privilege rather than a right," Spitzer enacted measures to limit political consideration and mandate ethical behavior by employees of the executive branch.

The orders will be used to pressure the Legislature to enact similar statewide reforms, said Spitzer, who forged an international reputation as state attorney general by reforming conflicts of interest on Wall Street.

The measures are anathema to Albany, for which New Yorkers have long shown contempt. They ban gifts from lobbyists; end personal use of state cars, computers and equipment; prohibit nepotism and ban ex-employees hired by the Spitzer administration from lobbing the executive branch for two years. Other executive orders ban statewide officials - including Spitzer - from appearing in state-paid commercials, stopping a practice expanded greatly under Pataki.

A public inauguration ceremony was to be held in a park outside the state Capitol later Monday.

"In order to return to policies of opportunity and prosperity, we must change the ethics of Albany and end the politics of cynicism and division in our state," Spitzer was to say in his inaugural, according to a transcript provided by his office. "It will require a new brand of politics - a break from the days when progress was measured by the partisan points scored or the opponents defeated."

Also being sworn in was Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the elder son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo who was elected to replace Spitzer as attorney general. The younger Cuomo, who had served as federal housing secretary under President Clinton, had unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2002.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Last Updated: Mon Jan 1, 2007

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