Two potential candidates for governor of New York on Tuesday welcomed the swearing-in of Kathy Hockul, as outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended his last day on Monday after resigning in disgrace.
New York Attorney General, Letitia James — whose scathing investigative report on Cuomo about alleged sexual assault on 11 women leading to his resignation — and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said they were ready to work with the new governor.
“Today is a historic day for New Yorkers with the swearing-in of our first female governor, Kathy Hochul,” said James in a brief statement. “I congratulate Gov. Hochul on this incredible accomplishment and wish her well in her new role building on the progress of our great state.
“I look forward to continuing to work with her and the entire incoming administration,” she added.
Williams said “the historic weight of inducting New York’s first female governor today cannot go overlooked or underappreciated.
“From our state’s founding, it has been a position held by white men, except when those men were confronted with and faced consequences for their own failure and wrongdoing,” he said. “As we move forward from this latest moment of scandal, I hope we can end this pattern by realizing what the full array of leadership can look like.
“Gov. Hochul’s success is our success; and, with former Gov. Cuomo now removed from the position of power that he long abused, it’s my hope that we can restore power to the people, and center our objectives on achieving justice, equity and advancement for New Yorkers,” Williams added.
“There are immense challenges before our city and state, but, as I expressed to Gov. Hochul before she assumed her new role, I’m ready to work together to recover from this pandemic and renew New York,” the public advocate continued. “As she takes office, I wish her luck and offer her support.”
After they met in New York City, on Aug. 17, Williams and Hochul issued a joint statement, stating that they had “an important dialogue discussing issues that are of vital and immediate importance to New Yorkers, including expanding and escalating COVID-19 vaccination efforts, reframing how we address public safety while reducing gun violence, and expediting distribution of relief funding for renters and owners alike.
“We also discussed the need to remove unnecessary barriers and fund excluded workers – largely immigrants – who have been blocked from federal aid,” they added. “These must and will be immediate priorities of this new administration.
“We look forward to working together, upstate and downstate, to help New Yorkers recover from this pandemic and renew New York City,” Williams and Hochul continued.
James is regarded as a strong potential candidate, though she has given no indication that she intends to enter the race, according to the New York Times.
It also said Williams is regarded as another possible rival, and that he was “actively exploring” a run for governor in 2022.
The Times said Williams ran “a vigorous yet unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor against Ms. Hochul in 2018, losing by 6.6 percentage points.”
Williams told the Times that he did not want to be appointed lieutenant governor, “but said that whoever inherited the position must serve as a check on the governor — something that he suggested did not happen in the Cuomo administration.”
“Cuomo couldn’t be who he was without an enabling structure,” he said. “People helped enable that, either explicitly or through silence.”
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, who is reportedly short-listed to be Hochul’s lieutenant governor, described Hochul’s swearing-in as an “historic moment”.
“We are long overdue for female leadership in New York’s highest office, and Kathy Hochul is the perfect pioneer,” said, the daughter of Haitian immigrants. “Hochul has empowered women and put New Yorkers first throughout her decades in public service. She is a role model and inspiration for women.”
Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said Tuesday was also “a new era of reform and accountability.”
“Hochul has pledged to end the toxic, misogynistic work environment in Albany,” she said. “I’m confident that Gov. Hochul will relentlessly fight for women’s rights and bring much-needed change to the state.
“Additionally, Gov. Hochul is no stranger to Brooklyn, having worked with the borough on plenty of initiatives, including Vital Brooklyn,” Bichotte Hermelyn added. “I have spoken to her, and she is receptive and aware of the borough’s needs. We welcome her with open arms as New York’s 57th Governor.”
Hochul, 62, a former congresswoman from Buffalo, became the 57th governor of New York early Tuesday, as she was sworn in at the State Capitol by the state’s chief judge, Janet DiFiore, in a private ceremony.
“I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, and I will tell New Yorkers I’m up for the task,” Hochul told WGRZ-TV, a Buffalo-based news station, shortly after the swearing-in ceremony.
“I thought about all the women that came before me, including my mother who was not there, but a lot of women through history, and I felt they passed the torch to me,” she added.
In his final email message to New Yorkers Monday night, Cuomo wished Hochul well in her new role.
“New York’s future is based on what we have accomplished together; and, during my tenure, we’ve shown that New York has a spirit that reaches for the skies,” he said. “We have worked to make New York the progressive capital of the nation.
“From passing Marriage Equality and the $15 minimum wage to enacting Paid Family Leave and the NY SAFE Act, from building new bridges and airports to combating climate change, from fighting against hate to fighting COVID—together we did what no one thought could be done,” Cuomo added.
“We didn’t get everything done that we wanted to, and we didn’t always get it quite right, but I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that every day I worked my hardest, I gave it my all, to deliver for you,” he continued. “Thank you for empowering me to fight for you. Thank you for your trust in me through COVID. Thank you for the honor of serving you.
“And never forget: Always stay New York tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving,” Cuomo said. “It’s the essence of what makes New Yorkers so special. Ever Upward!”