The self-proclaimed “nerd” is now officially at the helm of the state government. On Jan. 1, Republican Rick Snyder was inaugurated as Michigan’s governor. His inaugural speech focused on his plans for the state’s overhaul and his belief that “it’s time to start a new era.” While the governor’s words sound good, the state needs more than encouraging rhetoric. Rebuilding Michigan is going to take more than the efforts of one man, and Snyder needs to maintain the bipartisan ideals that characterized his campaign. Snyder must follow through on his campaign promises and ensure he delivers results for Michigan.

Last Saturday, Rick Snyder was sworn in as the state’s 48th governor. The ceremony took place on the Capitol steps in Lansing, with nearly 1,000 residents in attendance listening to the new governor speak about his plans for revitalizing Michigan. Snyder laid out his objectives, which include the diversification of Michigan’s economy, job creation, a secure and better future for Michigan’s youth and ensuring that no citizen is left behind in the revamping process.

Snyder’s speech brings hope to a state with insurmountable problems. But the reality is that nothing will get better for Michigan until its economy is stable. Snyder, who will go to work with a Republican controlled state House and Senate, must focus on creating jobs and developing emerging markets that are able to supplement and ultimately replace Michigan’s declining auto industry. In his inauguration speech, Snyder said that “today (is) the birth of the era of innovation and the reinvention of Michigan.” He must act on these words by fostering an environment that grows new knowledge-based industries such as the green energy and biotechnology sectors.

To accomplish this reinvention, Snyder must move beyond party politics and petty political banter. Throughout his campaign, he reiterated the importance of bipartisanship. Snyder even appointed a Democratic treasurer and a Republican adviser to his staff four days after the election. But Snyder needs to ensure that he is listening to both sides when determining legislation. And though Michigan is traditionally a blue state, lawmakers and citizens alike must realize that the state needs a fresh start and must trust this politically diverse administration.

The economy is on the forefront of nearly every Michigan residents’ mind, but it can’t be the only policy addressed during Snyder’s term. Social issues shouldn’t completely take a backseat to economic concerns. Michigan is a state where public education is faltering, gay rights issues have been largely unaddressed and environmental concerns often go unnoticed. And the constant struggle to clarify the state’s medicinal marijuana law is an ongoing issue. Progressive ideologies, in addition to a strong economy, will begin to draw people back to the state and should be among Snyder’s priorities.

Michigan desperately needs to be revitalized. If Governor Snyder stays true to his word, the state’s outlook will be much brighter than in year’s past. But for this to happen, Snyder needs to focus on creating a successful bipartisan environment and a healthy state economy.

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