HAMPTON, Va. - Virginia's first Black female lieutenant governor was sworn in Saturday afternoon. Winsome Sears took office after a nearly 20-year absence from politics.
While the achievement is history-making, Sears said she is more focused on getting to work than receiving praise.
In a one-on-one interview with News 3 reporter Erin Miller, she said, "the voters have spoken, what, two months ago? and here it is - we are finally going to get into office."
So, how did she get to this point? Sears was born in Kingston, Jamaica, after immigrating to the United States as a child. Sears served in the Marine Corps before starting her own plumbing and electric business.
She also served one-term as a Delegate out of Norfolk, but chose not to run for reelection.
"We're going to be for all Virginians. I didn't run to represent Republicans - I ran to represent Virginians," Sears said.
As she prepares to begin her term as lieutenant governor, she said education is a top priority.
"We must have some choice in education, parents - the money must follow the child and not the brick building," she said. "We're also not going to close the schools. If private schools can figure out how to stay open every day for one whole month and then progress to two years, then we can certainly figure it out."
Attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth is also at the top of her list.
"We've got broadband in place; we've got the utilities where they need to be; we've got the acreage that they need; we've got the education that these companies need when they're looking to relocate somewhere. We're gonna make sure that Virginia is their number one choice," Sears said.
In her role as Lieutenant Governor, Sears will preside over the Senate with a gavel in hand.
"They tell me that I wasn't banging it loud enough, but it's really heavy; you don't realize how heavy it is. And it's very loud. But you know, with practice comes perfection," she laughed.
While perfection may not exist in politics, Sears said she's ready to try.
"I'm not really excited so much as it's just time to get to work. I've been applying for the job since January of last year. And you know, it's just time to get to work," she said.
Sears also said she supports increasing teacher pay and will take actions to make that happen.