NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a low-key inauguration for troubled times, Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off his second term Thursday with a pep talk, urging New Yorkers to lead by example through some of the nation’s worst problems.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the ceremony was bare-bones to the max – no flowers, no orchestra, not even a local high school band. There were just two flags – the state seal and white wooden folding chairs in a sparse room in the tower at One World Trade Center.

READ MORE: Strome, Panarin Lead Rangers To Win Over Blackhawks

The closest thing to glitz was actor J.W. Cortes singing the National Anthem.

Speaking after the ceremonial public swearing-in ceremony, Cuomo said these times are “a uniquely New York moment because when things are at their worst, New York is at its best.”

“Because you will never solve a problem you are unwilling to admit,” he said.

He said he was beginning another four years in office during “troubled times” when people were questioning whether the country’s economic system and justice system are fair.

“Economic numbers are going up and up, but we work harder and make less,” he said. “While American capitalism never guaranteed success, it did guarantee opportunity.”

Cuomo promised reform of the criminal justice system, protection for police officers, and an attempt to heal the breach between police officers and communities, and between the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In the aftermath of the recent assassination of two NYPD officers – Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu – in Brooklyn, it was a time for a somber reflection about the healing process. He mentioned the raw anger that stemmed from the assassinations, and from the death of Eric Garner this past summer following an apparent police chokehold.

“The world saw an African-American man in Staten Island die, and people are confused, disappointed and angry,” Cuomo said. “Law enforcement officials have been wrongfully targeted and even assassinated.”

Cuomo charged that “everyone is talking but no one is listening.”

“It must stop, and it’s time for the truth,” he said. “The truth is the justice system does need review. The truth is that police officers do need more safety and protection.”

But he added: “The truth is law enforcement needs to respect the community as much as the community needs to respect law enforcement.”

He argued that “today, sadly, too many people are questioning if the blindfold is still intact or does the justice system now see black and white or black and blue or rich and poor.”

What policy changes Cuomo and the New York State Legislature come up with remain to be seen.

Citing national unrest, Cuomo also said the worst problems New Yorkers face go beyond state borders because people doubted that fairness and opportunity still exists.

READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 12/5 Sunday Morning Forecast

“We must perform and we must deliver results that answer these questions and right these wrongs and restore confidence,” he said.

He promised that whether it’s economic and racial equality or the quest for better education, New York will lead the nation by example.

“Because this is New York and we are New Yorkers and this is what we do,” he said.

Cuomo said he wanted to focus his second term on continued efforts to revitalize upstate New York, overhaul public education and make government fairer and more effective.

He said the state had made great strides since he took office, turning a $10 billion deficit into a $5 billion surplus, expanding health care to cover 1.5 million more people and reversing gridlock and dysfunction in state government by getting Republicans and Democrats to work together.

He said the state needed to replicate reforms occurring in Buffalo throughout the upstate region and address chronic high poverty with higher wages so “you don’t have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.”

Meanwhile, on Cuomo’s second inauguration, there was another reason for somber reflection. The governor’s 82-year-old father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, was absent – too sick and too frail to attend.

“He couldn’t be here physically today, my father, but my father is in this room,” Gov. Cuomo said. “He is in the heart and mind of every person who’s here, and here, and here, and his inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what brought this state to this point.”

Cuomo drew laughs when he showed his speech to his father, who said, “Not bad for a second-termer.”

Mario Cuomo passed away later in the day on Thursday.

This year’s legislative action is expected to feature debates over the minimum wage, New York City’s rent stabilization rules and government ethics.

Cuomo is expected to unveil his agenda for judicial and police reform next week during his annual state of the state speech.

But to prevail, Cuomo will have to overcome the resentment of lawmakers disappointed that he would not sign off on a legislative pay raise, CBS2’s Kramer reported.

Cuomo, who defeated Republican Rob Astorino 54 percent to 40 percent, traveled to Buffalo, incoming Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s home, to make a speech in the late afternoon.

Check Out These Other Stories From
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4″]

MORE NEWS: LaVine, DeRozan Lead Bulls To Win Over Nets

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)