Bill Lee sworn in as Tennessee’s 50th governor

Bill Lee sworn in as governor

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) - Businessman Bill Lee became Tennessee’s 50th governor Saturday.

The original plan called for Bill Lee to be sworn in as governor outside on the legislative plaza, but the rain in Nashville forced organizers to move the ceremony indoors to War Memorial Auditorium.

With his wife and children by his side, Bill Lee took the oath to become governor.

Outside, the Tennessee National Guard fired cannons giving the new governor a 19-gun salute.

Back inside, Governor Lee thanked his predecessor, former Governor Bill Haslam for helping improve the lives of many Tennesseans.

However, Lee said many challenges remain.

"We have great prosperity as I said on every corner, and yet we have 15 counties in poverty, all rural, all Tennesseans. We have some of the most distressed zip codes in America right in the heart of our greatest cities," said Lee.

He pledged to tackle healthcare, education, poverty and vowed to make communities safer.

"We can be tough in crime and smart on crime at the same time. And for violent criminals and for traffickers, justice should be swift and it should be certain," said Lee.

Lee also promised to fix the revolving prison door.

"We need to help nonviolent offenders reenter society, not re-enter prison," said Lee.

Echoing President Reagan, Lee acknowledged that he can’t do it all.

"As honored as I am to be you next governor, no governor will solve the problems. In fact, no government will solve the problems that we face. Government is not the answer to our challenges," said Lee.

Lee said the key is for Tennesseans to unite behind a common purpose and work together.

The celebration is just getting started. There will be two inaugural balls that the first couple will attend tonight.

We will be covering those as well.

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