Marshall Mayor Byrnes optimistic after attending inauguration

Submitted photo Southwest Minnesota was represented by a trio of mayors at the swearing-in ceremony of the state’s constitutional officers on Monday in St. Paul. Pictured, from left, is Marshall’s Bob Byrnes, Worthington’s Mike Huhle and Luverne’s Pat Baustian.

MARSHALL — Area leaders shared their optimism for the future as Tim Walz was sworn in as Minnesota’s 41st governor at an inauguration ceremony on Monday at Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

At the podium, Walz delivered a speech promoting his vision for “One Minnesota.” Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes was in attendance — the first inauguration he’s attended — alongside Worthington Mayor Mike Huhle and Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian.

“It was very nice,” Byrnes said. “The governor’s office did invite some regional mayors, so that was nice. I’m optimistic because of the fact that the governor is reaching out to all of Minnesota. That has been his big thing: ‘One Minnesota.’ If Greater Minnesota is doing well, the state is doing well and vice versa. If there are problems in the metro area, it affects the whole state.”

Byrnes said he was not surprised that education was a primary issue for Walz, who is a former school teacher.

“He focused on education in his speech,” Byrnes said. “He said it’s a statewide issue, not just an urban or Greater Minnesota issue. The complexity of the issues might be different, but the goals are the same.”

Marshall Public School Superintendent Scott Monson is especially appreciative that education is a high priority for Walz, as it was for the new governor’s predecessor, Mark Dayton.

“As a superintendent for the past 14 years, I’ve seen significant progress made in many state Capitol-related education areas,” Monson said. “I look for Governor Walz to continue to build on that progress, while also putting his own thumbprint on what he believes the future of Minnesota’s students need.”

Monson said he has an extra level of confidence in Walz since he’s worked alongside other educators in his career.

“I feel as though Governor Walz’s inauguration — and the future under his leadership — is a time for continued optimism for educators,” Monson said. “Because he is a former teacher, I am confident that Governor Walz’s focus will be on what is best for all of Minnesota’s students and that he and legislators will be able to work together on behalf of students.”

Monson anticipates that Walz will begin addressing a variety of education-related issues in the near future.

“I am hopeful that Governor Walz can lead efforts to improve safety and security in schools, address the teacher shortage crisis, increase local control in school districts and for school boards and improve funding inequities that exist,” Monson said. “Of course, predictable and sufficient funding is most often a concern for school districts and he will be judged by some, depending on what level of funding is provided to public education.”

Monson said he had the privilege of meeting Walz several years ago on a trip to Washington, D.C.

“I look forward to observing how things move forward as he begins his term and as the legislative session begins,” Monson said.

Other elected leaders were also sworn in to their respective offices at the ceremony on Monday, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, State Auditor Julie Blaha, Secretary of State Steve Simon and Attorney General Keith Ellison.

“With any new administration coming in, there’s this sense of enthusiasm,” Byrnes said.

“Both the governor and lieutenant governor are tremendous communicators. They’re optimistic about their work and the work of Minnesota. In listening to their messages, it’s easy to be optimistic.”