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Gov. Kathy Hochul Inspiring Hope On Both Sides Of The Aisle In First Day In Office

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Kathy Hochul has made history, and is inspiring hope.

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reports, from the folks in line for lunch at the downtown food truck, to the legislators on the third floor of the Capitol building, there's a renewed sense of confidence in state government Tuesday.

"Well, I think it's great a woman has become governor," one person said.

"I think she's got her own stance, her own thoughts, her own agenda," said another.

"This is probably the happiest time for me to be in the minority," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Heastie is talking about being the only man in the legislative leaders meeting with the state's first female governor and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

"Good to see all of you, hope everybody's vaccinated," Stewart-Cousins said.

With that, she kicked off her her speech after the leaders meeting. It's symbolic of the administration's priority to beat the pandemic. But given the epidemic of scandal and a toxic culture at the Capitol, Layton asked her how it felt to wake up to a new political era.

WATCH: Ceremonial Swearing In Of Gov. Kathy Hochul

"It feels good. It absolutely feels good," Stewart-Cousins said. "It's a collaborative tone. It's a sense of whatever has to be done, we will do in order to make the lives of New Yorkers better. We all are here for that."

"The most urgent, pressing is the COVID. Unless we can really manage to get people vaccinated, get them ready to have their boosters — the return to our children to school and how we make sure people are able to keep safe," Stewart-Cousins said.

"To help people through COVID - those remain our priorities. To make sure people can stay in their homes, to make sure businesses get the assistance, homeowners get the assistance," Heastie said. "In a couple weeks our young people are gonna be going back to school — we need to make sure they're safe."

The confidence in Hochul to change the tone is coming from both sides of the aisle.

"She just strikes me as a very genuine person," said Assemblyman Mary Beth Walsh (R-Saratoga).

Walsh says she went up to the second floor of the Capitol Tuesday to drop off a congratulations note to the new woman in charge.

"Because I think that's important and I just wanted her to get it from me," Walsh said.

Do you think it'll be easier to work with her aisle than Governor Cuomo?" Layton asked.

"I don't think there was any working across the aisle with Governor Cuomo," Walsh said.

In perhaps another positive sign, Hochul has already reached out to a number of Republicans. Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay says she called him last week, and now they have got to get beyond the distractions of the Cuomo downfall.

"I did like what governor Hochul said about being faith back to New Yorkers and to government that's probably her number one priority and I support her in doing that," Barclay said.

"I was the fist woman mayor in Albany and I'll tell you it wasn't something that was front of mind. And I think we as women leaders want to be judged by the results that we bring to the table but I've also learned being that first is important it's important to young women, important to send a message," said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. "So having that first woman governor is a milestone."

Sheehan said she and some other leaders got on a Zoom last night to toast the new governor.

Lawmakers told Layton as Hochul is concerned, it's clear she has a real urge to hit the ground running and get to work after so many distractions in recent months.

Nobody is more hopeful for success than the new governor herself. Before this morning's ceremonies, Layton saw Hochul leaving her hotel last night, hand in hand with her husband, as the then-lieutenant governor, at around 11:30 p.m. Monday, to head to the capitol for her private swearing in. Layton asked her how she will remember this moment. Hochul said it was very special.

The official private swearing in was quick. Her husband Bill held the Bible as she took the oath with her immediate family watching. She was back to the hotel by 12:45 a.m. as the first female governor in the state's history, a responsibility that she's approaching humbly.

"I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders and I will tell New Yorkers I'm up for the task and I'm really proud to serve as their governor and I won't let them down," Hochul said.

"What were you thinking about as you took the oath?" Layton asked.

"I thought about all the women who came before me. Including my mother, who was not there, but a lot of women through history, and I felt they passed the torch to me," Hochul said.

Hochul's mother has passed away, but her father was at the swearing in, and it was a very sweet moment when he walked into the Red Room. The whole room, probably 100 reporters and photographers, just stopped and took it in, Layton reported.

There was a funny moment while everyone was waiting for Hochul to walk in Tuesday morning. The cell phone alarm of one of her guests went off exactly at 10 a.m. Everyone sort of chuckled, and someone said "It's time."

The time has come for new leadership.

Jessica Layton contributed to this report. 


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