Kathy Hochul turns into New York’s first feminine governor: NPR
New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, left, swears in Kathy Hochul, right, as the first woman to be New York Governor, while her husband, Bill Hochul, holds a Bible during a swearing-in ceremony early Tuesday at the State Capitol in Albany, NY, Hans Pennink / AP hide caption
Hans Pennink / AP
Hans Pennink / AP
ALBANY, NY – Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York at midnight Tuesday, taking control of a state government desperate to get back to business after months of distractions over sexual harassment charges against Andrew Cuomo.
The West New York Democrat was sworn in as governor in a brief, private ceremony at the New York State Capitol under the supervision of the state’s Chief Justice, Janet DiFiore.
She then told WGRZ, a Buffalo television station, that she felt “the weight of responsibility” on her shoulders.
“I’m going to tell the New Yorkers I’m up to the job. And I’m really proud to serve as governor, and I’m not going to let them down,” she said.
Hochul’s rise to the top job was a historic moment in a capital city where women have only recently started pecking at a notoriously male-dominated political culture.
Cuomo left office at 12:00 p.m., two weeks after announcing that he would step down rather than face a likely impeachment trial. He submitted his resignation letter to the chairman of the state parliament and the senate late on Monday.
On his last day in office, Cuomo released a recorded farewell speech defending his record as New York governor for over a decade and portraying himself as a victim of a “media frenzy”.
This image, taken from a video by the New York Governors’ Office, shows New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivering a farewell speech in New York. The governor’s resignation took effect at midnight Monday, and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was sworn in immediately afterwards. Hide the New York governor’s office via AP caption
New York Governor’s Office via AP
New York Governor’s Office via AP
Hochul was supposed to hold a ceremonial swearing-in event in the Capitol on Tuesday morning, with more pomp than the short, legally required event at night.
She planned to meet with the legislative leaders later that morning and make a public speech at 3:00 p.m.
For the first time, a majority of the most powerful figures in the New York State government will be women, including the Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Attorney General Letitia James, and Presiding Judge DiFiore. The State Assembly is presided over by a man, Speaker Carl Heastie.
Hochul will take on immense challenges when she takes on a government that has been criticized by Cuomo for inaction over the past few months.
COVID-19 has made a comeback, with new cases rising nearly 1,370% since the end of June. Hospital stays are increasing as schools prepare to return to class.
Big decisions are to be made as to whether to require masks or vaccines for certain groups, or to reintroduce social distancing restrictions as the state’s latest wave of infections worsens. Hochul has said she is in favor of making masks mandatory for school children, in contrast to Cuomo, who said he lacks that authority.
The economy remains troubled. Jobs lost during the pandemic have come back, but unemployment is still double what it was two years ago.
New York is also struggling to get federal aid into the hands of renters holding back their rent because of the pandemic, releasing just 6% of the previously estimated $ 2 billion. Thousands of households are in danger of losing their homes if the state lets evacuation protection expire.
Hochul is also faced with the question of whether she will change government culture in New York after a Cuomo administration preferred violence to charm.
Cuomo’s resignation comes after an independent investigation conducted under the supervision of Attorney General Letitia James concludes there is credible evidence that he sexually molested at least 11 women.
In his parting speech, Cuomo adopted a defiant tone, saying the attorney general’s report that triggered his resignation was “a political bang on an explosive topic and it worked”.
“There was a political and media rush,” he said.
Cuomo also campaigned as a bulwark against his party’s left wing, which seeks to weaken the police and demonize corporations, boasting of making the government effective during his years in office. He cited his work fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, legalizing same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage to $ 15.
“I did my best to deliver for you,” said Cuomo.
Some critics jumped on Cuomo’s remarks as selfish.
Democrat MP Yuh-Line Niou tweeted that he had a hundred million opportunities to improve as a leader and “chose himself every time. Goodbye Governor Cuomo.”
Cuomo’s top assistant, Melissa DeRosa, released a statement saying the governor was reviewing his options for life after the board of governors but was “not interested in running again.”
Cuomo’s resignation won’t end his legal troubles.
An adviser who said Cuomo had groped her chest filed a complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. Separately, Cuomo faced a legislative investigation into whether he misled the public about deaths from COVD-19 in nursing homes to protect his reputation as a pandemic leader and received inappropriate help from government officials in writing a book that earned him US $ 5 million -Dollars.
The change in leadership came after Tropical Storm Henri, which narrowly missed Long Island on Sunday, but poured rain over the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley.
Hochul has to quickly build up its own team of consultants to manage the administration for at least the next 16 months.
Hochul, who said she did not work closely with Cuomo and was unaware of the harassment allegations before they went public, has vowed no one will ever label her workplace as “toxic”.
“I have a different approach to governance,” said Hochul on Wednesday in Queens, adding, “I do the job because I don’t have time for distractions, especially when I enter this position.”
She announced on Monday the proposed appointments of two top aides: Karen Persichilli Keogh will become secretary to the governor and Elizabeth Fine will become Hochul’s senior legal advisor.
She plans to keep Cuomo-era staff for 45 days to give her time to interview new employees, but said she will not keep anyone who has acted unethically.
Hochul, who has already announced that she will run for a full term next year, is expected to appoint a left-wing New York politician as her lieutenant governor. Hochul represented a conservative western New York borough in Congress for a year and is considered moderate.
The chairman of the Democratic Party of the state, Jay Jacobs, praised Hochul as “formidable”.
“She is very experienced and I think she will be a refreshing and exciting new governor,” he said.