By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – After being the leader of the Mile High City and then entire state of Colorado, Sen. John Hickenlooper is getting used to an institution based on seniority. Tuesday, just two days after he was sworn into office, Hickenlooper talked to CBS4 from his desolate basement office about the challenges ahead in the beginning of his term.

(credit: CBS)

“I want to be a voice for responsible relief that allows Colorado small businesses to open safely and responsibly,” Hickenlooper said. “The country is facing such serious peril, such challenges. How are we going to get everyone vaccinated? How are we going to restart the economy?”

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Hickenlooper says he’s going to rely on his way of governing that has worked in the past, bringing both sides of the aisle together to find compromise. He doesn’t have plans for his first bill, but has been thinking about things where he can find common ground with Republicans.

“We’ve got to be able to collaborate to really be successful on things like infrastructure,” he said, wanting to focus on roads, bridges and even rural broadband. “This is a place where we can find common ground. It became a stimulus to get the economy going. It builds basic information that helps our school districts, hospitals, our rural economies succeed.”

(credit: CBS)

On Tuesday, Hickenlooper was looking toward the Georgia runoff elections and what the balance of power could be in the Senate.

“I think it’s going to be important in terms of rebuilding the economy and how we allocate decisions,” he said.

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The Georgia outcome will dictate where he lands on committees, but told CBS4 he’s asked to be on Finance, Armed Service, Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, as well as Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

“Those are the five committees I leaned into from the beginning. Having been a Mayor and a Governor, I feel like I can add value at any of those committees,” he said.

Several times Hickenlooper praised former Sen. Cory Gardner for working with him on transition and problem solving over the past few weeks.

Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, center, wears a protective mask while being ceremoniously sworn-in by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 3.

Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, center, wears a protective mask while being ceremoniously sworn in. (credit: Pete Marovich/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

With more movement expected within the Senate, Hickenlooper is holding out hope that his office space will improve in the next few months. For now, he’s two floors directly below his former Chief of Staff, Sen. Michael Bennet.

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“I look forward to maintaining that same collaborative approach. If there’s an issue for a Colorado person, non-profit, or business, we’re going to try and fix it,” he said. “What we want to do is make sure problems get solved.”

Jeff Todd