Hochul to become New York’s first female governor out of Cuomo | Voice of America
ALBANY, NY – Kathy Hochul was set to become New York’s first female governor at the stroke of midnight, taking control of a state government desperate to resume operations after months of distractions over allegations of sexual harassment against Andrew Cuomo.
The West New York Democrat was due to be sworn in as governor in the opening minutes of Tuesday in a brief private ceremony overseen by state chief justice Janet DiFiore.
Her rise to the highest positions will be a historic moment in a capital where women have only recently begun to undermine what has long been a male-dominated political culture.
Cuomo was due to step down at 11:59 p.m., just under two weeks after announcing he would step down rather than face a likely impeachment battle.
On the last day of his tenure, he released a pre-recorded farewell speech in which he defended his record for more than a decade as governor of New York City and presented himself as the victim of a “media frenzy.” “.
Hochul was scheduled to have an oath-taking ceremony Tuesday morning at the New York State Capitol. She planned to meet with legislative leaders later in the morning and deliver a public address at 3 p.m.
For the first time, the majority of the most powerful figures in the New York State government will be women, including State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Attorney General Letitia James and Judge in chief, DiFiore. The State Assembly is headed by one man, President Carl Heastie.
Hochul will inherit immense challenges as she takes over an administration criticized for inaction in Cuomo’s final months.
COVID-19 has made a comeback, with new cases rising nearly 1,370% since the end of June. Hospitalizations are on the rise even as schools prepare to resume classes.
Big decisions lie ahead on whether to impose masks or vaccines on certain groups, or reinstate social distancing restrictions if the state’s latest wave of infections worsens. Hochul said she was in favor of making masks mandatory for schoolchildren, in contrast to Cuomo, who said he did not have that authority.
The economy remains unstable. Jobs lost during the pandemic are back, but unemployment remains double what it was two years ago.
New York has also struggled to get federal aid into the hands of tenants behind on rent due to the pandemic, freeing up just 6% of the $ 2 billion budgeted so far. Thousands of households risk losing their homes if the state allows eviction protections to expire.
Hochul also faces the question of whether she will change the culture of governance in New York City, following a Cuomo administration that favored strength over charm.
Cuomo’s resignation comes after an independent investigation overseen by state attorney general Letitia James found there was credible evidence that he had sexually harassed at least 11 women.
In his farewell remarks, Cuomo adopted a defiant tone, saying the attorney general’s report that triggered his resignation was designed to be “a political firecracker on an explosive subject, and it worked.”
“There was a political and media scramble,” he said.
Cuomo has also presented himself as a bulwark against the left wing of his party, which he says wants to fund police and demonize business, and bragged about making government effective during his years in the to be able to. He cited his work to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, legalize same-sex marriage and raise the minimum wage to $ 15.
“I did my best to deliver for you,” Cuomo said.
Some critics have jumped on Cuomo’s remarks as selfish.
Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, a fellow Democrat, tweeted that he had a hundred million opportunities to improve as a leader and “chose himself every time. Goodbye, Governor Cuomo. ”
Cuomo’s main aide, Melissa DeRosa, released a statement saying the governor was exploring options for her post-governorship life but had “no interest in running again.”
Cuomo’s resignation won’t end his legal problems.
An aide who said Cuomo groped his chest filed a complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. Separately, Cuomo was facing a legislative inquiry into whether he misled the public about COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes to protect his reputation as a leader of the pandemic and improperly obtained the help government employees to write a book that could earn him $ 5 million.
The change in direction came the day after Tropical Storm Henri, which narrowly missed Long Island on Sunday but dumped rain on the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley.
Hochul will need to quickly build his own team of advisers to lead 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 until they were made public, vowed that no one would ever label her workplace as ” toxic ”.
“I have a different approach to governance,” Hochul said Wednesday in Queens, adding, “I get the job done because I don’t have time for distractions, especially for this job.”
She announced on Monday the planned appointments of two senior staff: Karen Persichilli Keogh will become secretary to the governor and Elizabeth Fine will be Hochul’s chief legal advisor.
She plans to keep Cuomo-era employees for 45 days to give her time to interview new hires, but said she won’t keep anyone who behaved unethically.
Hochul, who has previously said she plans to run for a full term next year, is expected to choose a left-wing New York politician as lieutenant governor. Hochul has already represented a conservative district in western New York State in Congress for a year and has a reputation for being moderate.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs called Hochul “formidable.”
“She is very experienced and I think she will be a refreshing and exciting new governor,” he said.