COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - By JULIE CARR SMYTH
AP Statehouse Correspondent
Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich called his inauguration every Ohioan's inauguration on Monday, pledging to devote his administration to helping the people of the state, not special interests.
"I have a sense that people across Ohio know we have a challenge. So today we are inaugurated into a better day," said Kasich, 58, before a crowd of thousands at the Ohio Theatre, across the street from the Ohio Statehouse. "I am only a servant, a public servant. I report to you, the people."
The ceremonial swearing in of Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was peppered with dignitaries -- including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, celebrity zookeeper and TV host Jack Hanna, former Republican Gov. Bob Taft and hundreds of others.
Kasich beseeched the crowd not to be selfish as the painful process of restoring the state continues.
"When one part of Ohio hurts, we all hurt," he said. "And when one part of Ohio succeeds, we all succeed."
An estimated $8 billion deficit is looming, and the state's unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in November.
A former congressman, Fox News commentator, and investment banker, Kasich has pledged a businessman's approach to policy that he hopes can restore economic security and add jobs. He would like to eliminate Ohio's personal income tax, privatize state functions from the Ohio Turnpike and prisons to liquor sales, and reform public pensions.
Kasich took his formal oath of office at a 12:01 a.m. ceremony that he moved to the Statehouse and opened to the media after protests last week. Newly elected Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor administered both oaths.
Kasich was accompanied at both events by his wife, Karen, and 10-year-old twin daughters, Reese and Emma. The Bible he used for the midnight ceremony was given to him by a friend after his parents were killed by a drunken driver in 1987.
At the noon event, his daughters' 5th grade class led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ohio State University Glee Club concluded the event with "Carmen Ohio," the university's alma mater that ends with a harmonious "O-HI-O."
Kasich succeeds one-term Democrat Ted Strickland, a moderate Democrat who was ousted largely because of Kasich's attacks on his economic record.
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