Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York

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Kathy Hochul became New York’s first female governor on Tuesday and inherited immense challenges as she takes over a government criticized for inaction during Andrew Cuomo’s last few months in office.

Hochul, a Democrat and former member of Congress from west New York, took the oath of office shortly after midnight in a brief, private event led by the state’s chief judge Janet DiFiore.

A solemn swearing-in ceremony was scheduled for Tuesday morning at the New York State Capitol, with more pomp than the brief, legally mandated event that night. Hochul planned a public address at 3 p.m.

“I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders and tell New Yorkers I’m up to the job,” said one of their hometown Buffalo television stations, WGRZ, as she walked out of the Capitol early Tuesday morning.

Over the next few months, Hochul, who was a little-known figure as Lieutenant Governor, will have the opportunity to reshape the way power works in Albany, where Cuomo dominated decision-making for years before plunging into a sexual harassment scandal became.

For generations it has been said that all real decisions in the state government were made by “three men in one room”, the governor and the leaders of the state senate and the state assembly.

Now, for the first time in the state’s history, two of those three – Hochul and Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart cousins ​​- are women. Only the State Assembly is presided over by one man, Speaker Carl Heastie.

Cuomo left his post at 12:00 p.m., two weeks after he announced his resignation, rather than facing an impeachment battle that seemed inevitable after a report by independent investigators under the supervision of Attorney General Letitia James concluded that he was 11 Sexually molested women.

On his last day in office, Cuomo published a recorded farewell speech in which he again said he was innocent and presented himself as a victim of a “media frenzy”.

Hochul takes over with the state, which is still dealing with rolling crises from the coronavirus pandemic.

She is expected to make decisions in the coming weeks about whether or not to make masks mandatory for children returning to school – something she has already endorsed.

She will be under pressure to provide tenants with funds for federal rent reductions. Few of the $ 2 billion federal government allocated to help New Yorkers pay off their rental debts has so far been distributed across the state, and thousands face eviction if the state allows protection to expire .

And Hochul is faced with the question of whether it will change government culture in New York, where many other top Democrats have complained for years about being excluded from important decisions and bullied by Cuomo.

Former Governor David Paterson, who like Hochul unexpectedly became governor when his predecessor resigned, said she needed to restore confidence in the office.

“There will be some pressure on Governor Hochul, as well as myself, to restore the values ​​and behavior and decency that characterize a governor,” said Paterson.

She also has to work fast. Hochul has already announced that she will run for a full term next year and will only have a few months to establish herself as the favorite ahead of a Democratic spring primary.

In the meantime, she is building an administration – a task that began early Tuesday with the oath of office.

DiFiore took the oath in front of a stone fireplace in a Capitol room with family pictures on it.

Hochul, her husband Bill Hochul and DiFiore entered the room wearing masks and took them off as the ceremony began. Hochul put her hand on a Bible held by her smiling husband, a former federal attorney and current general counsel of the Buffalo-based hospitality company Delaware North.

Hochul signed a stack of papers – including the oath – with a set of ten pens dated “August 24, 2021” while her family stood behind her and watched. Then she thanked each member of her staff and told them that she would see them tomorrow before leaving the room.


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