Good morning, everyone!
It is so wonderful to be with you today at Park Meadows Elementary School.
This is a stellar A-rated school with a terrific principal Ms. Humble top-notch teachers and of course, some of Arizona's smartest and most spirited students!
I want to thank one of those students -- Miranda Rogers -- for leading us today in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thank you, Miranda!
Finally, do you know one of the things I like best about this school? It's Home of the Scorpions!
Park Meadows is special to me for many reasons. So, being here today is a very nostalgic and personal moment.
You may not know this, but two of my own children attended this very school when they were your age.
It was a little more than 30 years ago that I was here, driving my sons to and from school volunteering as Den Mother of their Cub Scouts troops and cheering them on at their Little League games outside this gym.
It is where they grew up where they learned to read, write and problem solve where they formed early friendships, opinions, interests, skills and goals.
Park Meadows is also where I developed a passion for education and began my journey of public service.
In fact, it was after I attended a school board meeting -- held right here in your cafeteria -- that I was motivated to run for public office.
I left that meeting determined to make a difference and help improve our schools.
And so, I ran and won a seat in the Arizona State House of Representatives.
But if someone had told me then that I would someday be standing here as your Governor -- I never would have believed it!
Three decades later, I continue fighting to make Arizona a better place to live.
Whether as a member of the State House of Representatives the State Senate a Maricopa County Supervisor Secretary of State or in my proudest role -- as your Governor My mission has been the same:
To serve my constituency my county and my state with honor --and to leave each better off than I found them.
Together we've worked to improve education reinvigorate and grow the economy and we've been steadfast in fighting for state sovereignty and individual liberty.
I'm also very proud to have stood up for Arizona's most vulnerable --
including the unborn, abused and neglected children, and our behavioral health population.
I'd like to think I've been successful in this mission. Because results matter, I am confident history also will agree.
There's no doubt Arizona is a success story, through and through.
These past five years have perhaps been our hardest challenge yet, but we've worked relentlessly to rescue Arizona from the economic brink.
It's what I like to call "The Arizona Comeback."
And learning from the past mistakes and politics as usual that pushed us there we've guided Arizona onto solid ground and a prosperous path.
Now, being on the right course doesn't mean we stop working hard.
Our work continues and our comeback story is still being written. I look forward to seeing that story continue to unfold for many years to come.
However, there does come a time to pass the torch of leadership.
So, after completing this term in office, I will be doing just that.
While I will no longer be governor after this year, I will remain a proud cheerleader and champion for this awesome state that I love so very dearly.
Serving as governor has been the privilege and pleasure of my life. It's been an uphill climb and a joyride. It's been a challenge of the most rewarding kind.
Standing before you today is truly bittersweet.
I'm saddened to be leaving this post next year but I'm proud of the remarkable progress we've made for the state during my time in office.
Now, make no mistake just like your job is to finish this school year strong, learning and engaged to the last day of school my job as governor is far from over.
We have serious work to complete in these coming months. Most urgently, we must fix Arizona's broken Child Protection System.
We also must pass a responsible budget that protects our core priorities -- like education -- and continues Arizona's steady road to recovery.
I can assure you, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. I will work until my final hour completing the people's business on behalf of this great state.
Both my pen and veto stamp have plenty of ink!
I'm optimistic that our future leaders will love Arizona as much as we love her and hopeful that they, too, will leave her better than they found her.
Looking back on these 30-plus years -- from that first school board meeting right here at Park Meadows Elementary School to my final stretch as Governor of Arizona -- I feel immensely fortunate.
I have had the honor of serving the greatest state in our nation
Supported by the whiz kids the most loyal, hardworking,
trustworthy administration I could've hoped for
And sustained by the most important presence in my life: my faith and my family.
As King David reminds me, "The Lord is my strength and my shield, in him my heart trusts."
I am so grateful for all the prayers . and for God's love guiding my way throughout the years.
To my beloved sons, who inspired my passion to my wonderful husband, who ignited my journey: I am eternally indebted.
My son, Michael, and my husband, John, are here with me today -- as they have been every step of the way. Thank you. I love you so very much.
To the outstanding administration, faculty, staff and students of Park Meadows:
I am grateful we have the hardworking teachers, principals and counselors who work tirelessly every day to prepare and inspire our next generation of leaders.
And who knows? We might have a future lawmaker county supervisor Secretary of State or Governor right here in this very room!
I certainly hope so.
I tell you with confidence that -- with passion and persistence --anything is possible.
My story is proof of that. Arizona's story is proof of that.
So please, keep working hard. Do what you love and love what you do.
Also, never forget to put public service before self-service.
These were among the lasting lessons I learned from MY role model and guardian angel my mother, Edna Drinkwine.
And, if I could pass along the most important advice my dearest mother taught me and that has been the hallmark of my public service It's this:
Remember that doing the right thing almost always means doing the hard thing.
When I move on at the end of this term to begin my next chapter, I'm proud to be leaving this state better than I found it. And I know I can count on you to do the same.
May God bless each and every one of you and may God always bless and protect Arizona and the United States of America!