Gov. Bill Lee was sworn in for a second term as governor on Saturday outside the state Capitol.

Lee, a Republican, easily won a second four-year term as governor in November. On hand for the event were former Govs. Bill Haslam, Phil Bredesen and Lamar Alexander, in addition to current and former elected officials. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Page administered the oath of office.

In addressing the crowd, among Lee’s themes was “leading the nation,” touting success in bringing businesses like Ford to the state. Some critics noted that Tennessee also “leads the nation” in various negative metrics, including related to health and education.

Heading into the underway legislative session, Lee has said he will prioritize infrastructure, but without increasing the gas tax or taking on new state debt. Lee’s plan includes outsourcing road construction to private companies who could then charge tolls on new lanes.

“The halfway point of any endeavor is a good time to reflect, but it’s an even better time to plan – to focus on the work still ahead,” Lee said, calling for a “transportation strategy and an energy strategy” as well as the “need to enhance efforts to conserve our natural resources and preserve the environment.”

Added Sen. London Lamar, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus: “If the governor is ready to begin working to improve life for everyday Tennesseans, he’ll find no better partner than Senate Democrats. … There’s so much we can achieve when we work together and focus on solutions to the problems that are plaguing working- and middle-class families — instead of ideological agendas.”

Photos by Hamilton Matt Masters