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Dalrymple becomes North Dakota's 32nd governor

BISMARCK -- Just before noon Tuesday, Jack Dalrymple became North Dakota's new governor.

For the first time in the state's history, a governor voluntarily resigned, paving the way for the lieutenant governor to take the top post.

Gov. John Hoeven gave a farewell speech highlighting some of his key achievements, praising North Dakota and thanking officials.

"Other governors have let office early, but only involuntarily -- either by dying or because they were removed by the law. I'm very pleased to report that neither of those cases applies today," Hoeven said to laughter.

Hoeven said the day was "the beginning of a new chapter" and said he and his wife, Mikey, are honored to be able to continue on by serving in the U.S. Senate.

"From the beginning, we believed -- and we continue to believe -- that North Dakota's future is limited only by the imagination and energy of North Dakotans," Hoeven said. "We can and we are making North Dakota a better place to live for ours and for future generations."

The oath of office was then administered to Dalrymple, with his wife, Betsy, at his side.

As his first act of office, Dalrymple appointed former U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley of Fargo to serve as his lieutenant governor.

"After 16 years in the House and 10 years as lieutenant governor, I am ready to serve as your governor," Dalrymple announced to applause.

During his speech, Dalrymple praised Hoeven and his service to the state.

"In the spring of the year 2000, he gave me an opportunity to be an integral part of his team," Dalrymple said. "Betsy and I thought he looked promising, but honestly we had no idea what a great leader he would become."

Dalrymple highlighted the state's low unemployment rate, wage and personal income growth, and strong diverse economy. He also spoke of the state's strong financial position and his work with education funding reform.

Dalrymple will present state lawmakers with his proposals for the 2011-13 budget today. He said the budget will include new ideas about infrastructure, quality instruction in schools and funding for higher education.

He thanked everyone involved with "making North Dakota the envy of the nation."

"Thank you for your support in the past and for the support I know you will give me in the coming years," Dalrymple said.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., issued a news release Tuesday to offer his support.

"Lucy and I offer our heartfelt congratulations to Jack, his wife, Betsy, and the entire Dalrymple family," Conrad said in a statement. "Jack brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the governor's office, especially on agricultural issues."

Conrad said he looks forward to working with Dalrymple and Wrigley on issues like flood protection, the farm bill and energy opportunities.

About 500 people at­­tended the approximately 45-minute transition ceremony in the House Chamber, according to an estimate from the governor's office. The crowd included former Gov. Ed Schafer and wife Nancy, members of the public and the state Supreme Court, Cabinet officials and statewide elected officials.

The governor's office reported 825 people watched the ceremony online. A Fargo reception is planned from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. CST Thursday at the Ramada Plaza and Suites.

Lloyd and Deloris Schroeder drove about 100 miles from Alfred to watch the transition ceremony Tuesday.

"We've always been a supporter of Gov. Hoeven," said Deloris Schroeder, who wore a "Hoeven for Governor" shirt.

Jesse and Ruth Starr of Minot brought their children, Jonathan, 16, and Jessica, 7, to the event. Jesse Starr said he thinks it's important for his kids to see politics in action.

Esther Kysar of Bismarck said she's sad to see Hoeven leave the state but said she knows he's going on to serve at a different level.

"I just think this is a great event to see our governor go and have the other coming in," she said.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.