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Sandra Yi ReportingOlene Walker made Utah history yesterday by becoming the state's first female governor. Many hope that will inspire more women to get involved in politics, especially now as there are more women holding some of the highest ranking governmental positions in the state.
Yesterday Governor Walker paid homage to Martha Hughes Cannon, who was the first woman elected to the state senate in 1897. Since then more women have served in office, but some say it's not enough.
Gov. Olene Walker: "I grew up with mainly boys in our family. I have a sister 16 years younger than I, but there was never any discussion that I would do anything different than the boys."
Don't underestimate Olene Walker because she's a woman.
Gov. Olene Walker: "I played football with them and I was pretty tough so I think I can be pretty tough in this job."
But make no mistake, Walker is the first female to hold the state's top post and she joins the ranks of only six other women governors in the nation.
Gov. Olene Walker: "I don't know that I'm a role model, but I hope I set a good example that anyone can rise to the top in the political arena."
And it's an achievement many in Utah are celebrating.
Meg Holbrook, Former Chair, Utah Democratic Party: "A lot of women that are in politics or that have been in positions of leadership, they're there because they are the best person for the job."
Today more women hold high-ranking posts in Utah politics--Olene Walker, for one. Salt Lake County's leader, Nancy Workman, is also a woman. There are two female state Supreme Court Justices, including the Chief Justice. Christine Durham yesterday, was the first woman Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice to swear in a governor.
Meg Holbrook: "It shows that Utahns are independent minded. They're willing to have women because they're very good leaders and we need more of them. A lot of male politicians tend to be divisive and polarizing. I think women with a common sense approach are inclusive."
Holbrook says Utah is moving forward. As for Governor Walker, she'd rather look beyond gender. She hopes to inspire all girls and boys.
Gov. Olene Walker: "I hope that young girls as well as young boys realize they have an obligation to do something because we live in a democracy; and that women as well as men can be outstanding policy makers."
Governor Walker said she has seen remarkable changes during her 23 years in politics. When she was first elected into the state legislature there were only six women. Now there are more than 25. She says the number of female Lieutenant Governors in the country have also more than tripled since she took that office.