Hochul to lead New York

New Yorkers far and wide welcomed the news that Andrew Cuomo will be exiting the Executive Mansion by August 24, paving the way for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to become the first woman to govern the Empire State in its history.

Hochul, a Buffalo native, has spent her entire career—save for a stint as a homemaker when her children were small—in politics. And, like many politicians, she’s an attorney, having received her BA from Syracuse and her law degree at D.C.’s Catholic University. The 62-year-old married mother of two has described herself as a “independent Democrat” who, as Erie County Clerk in 2010, balked at going along with disgraced former Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s orders to allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. She went on to win a seat in Congress, replacing a long-standing Republican in her district and was tapped to replace Lt. Governor Robert Duffy, who stepped down after his first term in office under Cuomo.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul met with TD Bank’s Bonnie Werk when she came to address the RBA’s Women’s Leadership Council in 2018. Hochul has made several visits to the county since elected in 2015. (Photo: Kathy Kahn)

Hochul has remained relatively silent on Cuomo’s multiple dilemmas, but tweeted, “I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers. As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”

Rockland Business Association President/CEO Al Samuels commended Hochul’s involvement in the state’s ten Regional Economic Councils. Samuels, who sits on the Hudson Valley’s Regional Council, said, “Lt. Gov. Hochul has met with us at the start of every cycle. She’s very easy to work with. She’s visited the RBA several times, has been a guest speaker at one of our annual dinners and has met with our Women’s Leadership Council to help promote women’s initiatives. We look forward to working with her and wish her all the best in her new role as Governor.” Said Bonnie Werk, TD Bank Vice President and member of the RBA’s Women’s Leadership Council, “I was pleased to meet with Kathy Hochul as Lt. Governor a number of years ago when she visited Rockland County and now I am thrilled to call her Governor Hochul, the first women Governor of the state of New York!” 

Michael Oates, Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation President/CEO, agrees. “We look forward to working with the incoming Governor. She has extensive experience understanding critical economic development issues and can help us continue to grow the Hudson Valley regional economy,” said Oates in an e-mail. “She recently addressed our board and were impressed with her passion to provide opportunities for all.”

Jay Jacobs, Chair of the NYS Democratic Committee, joined fellow Democrats in welcoming the changing of the guard in embattled Albany: “New York will finally have its first female Governor, and we could not be in better hands.  From assisting her mother run a transitional domestic violence shelter to helping make the property tax cap permanent, Kathy Hochul has always and relentlessly fought for the people of New York.  Her experience at all levels of government – Town Board Member, County Clerk, Congresswoman, and Lieutenant Governor, makes her uniquely well-equipped to effectively govern the State at this time.  I am confident that incoming Governor Hochul’s empathy, work ethic and authentic concern for the welfare of its citizens will make her an outstanding Governor for our State.”

With Hochul’s position being vacated, NYS Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-) is at the top of the succession list to serve as lieutenant governor. When Gov. Elliot Spitzer—who became known as Client No. 9 during his own sex scandal—then Lt. Gov. David Patterson was allowed to choose his own second-in-command when he replaced the disgraced Spitzer.