New York’s 57th Governor marks a first for the state, Kathleen C. Hochul is the first woman to hold the office. At age 63, coming from Buffalo, Governor Hochul was sworn in after the three weeks when Cuomo’s long reign came to an end due to accusations of sexual harassment by up to eleven women. She immediately made moves to correct the various wrongs by Cuomo and other neglected areas.
Cuomo left a huge mess with his handling of COVID policies, which Hochul has started to make amends for. 12,000 deaths were left out of the count publicized by the former governor, changing the number from 43,400 to 55,400. “There are presumed and confirmed deaths. People should know both,” Hochul vowed in her continued quest for transparency from the government. She also has pushed to make masks mandatory in schools, whereas Cuomo said he had no power to do so. Her reasoning? “Your priorities are my priorities, and right now, that means fighting the Delta variant.”
Hochul is also working on getting relief to struggling renters, landlords and undocumented immigrants. All of whose rental assistance money never appeared over the past year. She’s also hiring more staff to help find what is blocking the system, and go through future applications for financial aid.
Each word, each small move has done more and more to distance her from Cuomo, to whom she served as Lieutenant Governor. In her public address to the people of the state, Hochul skirted around mention of Cuomo, only saying his name three times. “It’s no secret that the Governor and I were not close. He had his own tight inner circle. I created my own space.” Hochul has given herself forty-five days to decide on which members of Cuomo’s administration will stay on with her own.
In the meantime, Hochul has appointed a female secretary, Karen Persichilli Keogh, and Chief legal advisor, Elizabeth Fine. Both women’s political careers have been rooted in NYC. Hillary Clinton worked with Keogh in the past and once stated, “She has a steady hand, knows every corner of the state, and cares deeply about New Yorkers.” Hochul also picked former member of the Obama administration, Adrienne Harris, as the state’s top financial regulator. For her own Lieutenant Governor, Hochul chose Harlem native, Brian Benjamin. Her administration shows promise in their ability to work for the people’s needs.
New York’s state governor promises to move away from the toxicity promoted by Cuomo, who often butted heads with other elected officials in favor of the people. Hochul has promised one of her first tasks is “changing the culture of Albany” with “a fresh collaborative approach.” The most prominent being a complete revamping of the ethics system. Government employees will have to attend ethics training and sexual harassment courses in person, instead of on a computer screen where it can be easily ignored.
Hochul’s administration has separated itself from any association with Cuomo, quickly and efficiently. More than that, Hochul has made clear her priorities and how she means to look out for the people of New York. That means putting safety first, getting input on other policies, and not hiding anymore information from the electors.