BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker engaged in a series of traditional ceremonies during his last full day as governor on Wednesday, marking the transition of power in the top office on Beacon Hill from Republican to Democratic hands.
During a private ceremony in the governor’s office the Republican handed the incoming governor, Democrat Maura Healey, a series of symbolic items including a bible dating to the 1800s and a gavel made from the white oak frame of the U.S.S. Constitution.
Two other items that passed hands — as they have in prior transitions — included a pewter key to the door to the governor’s office and and two volumes of the Massachusetts general laws dating back to the 1860s.
“It was a really beautiful and special moment,” Healey told reporters after the ceremony. “It’s so important that we respect those traditions and the continuity of government.”
Baker will end Wednesday with a traditional, red-carpeted “lone walk” through the Statehouse and down the front steps of the historic building, symbolising his return to private life.
Baker’s departure clears the way for Healey to be sworn in as the state’s newest governor on Thursday.
Healey, the first woman and first member of the LGBTQ community to be elected governor in Massachusetts, will take the oath of office in the House chambers at the Statehouse at about noon on Thursday.
Following the swearing-in, Healey is expected to outline some of the goals of her administration. That evening, Healey will host inaugural celebration at the TD Garden in Boston.
Earlier Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled 200-member state Legislature was sworn in for a new two-year term.
Democratic Senate President Karen Spilka outlined a number of her priorities for the session including lowering the cost of prescription drugs and focusing on the state’s ongoing housing crisis.
She also pledged to use all the tax dollars from the recent, voter-approved “millionaire tax” for new investments in transportation and education.
Baker, a former Harvard basketball player, has already lined up his next challenge — leading the NCAA. The country’s largest college sports governing body oversees some 500,000 athletes at more than 1,100 schools.
Baker steps into the new job in March.