Sunday, September 26, 2021

New York’s 1st female governor sworn in after Cuomo resignation

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Kathy Hochul has been sworn in as the 57th governor of New York.

The first woman to serve in the role, Hochul said her biggest priority would be to help restore New Yorkers’ confidence in state government, a barely veiled knock against disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I want people to believe in government again. It’s important to me that people have faith.

”Our strength comes from the faith and the confidence of the people who put us in these offices and I take that very seriously,’’ the Democrat said.

The former Lieutenant governor also declared she would be focusing on changing the culture of Albany and pursuing a fresh collaborative approach.

Hochul later laid out key priorities including getting COVID-19 rental assistance to tenants, instituting a mask mandate for schoolkids and taking over the reins of the pandemic recovery.

She said, she had spoken with President Joe Biden on Monday evening, and her fellow Democrat pledged his full support for her administration.

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The 62-year-old vowed to work collaboratively with legislative leaders and promised a new era of cooperation with Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom Cuomo famously feuded.

“There will be no blindsiding. We need cooperation,’’ Hochul said about working with leaders in the city.

De Blasio could barely contain his joy as he heaped praised on the new governor.

“It’s just a good day to be turning the page. She and I have already started speaking regularly, and we’re going to keep it that way and do a lot of good work for the people of this city and this state,’’ he said.

Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Janet DiFiore presided over the swearing-in at the State Capitol, hours after a similar official ceremony just after midnight when Cuomo’s resignation amid sexual harassment allegations took effect.

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In a nod to Hochul’s groundbreaking role, DiFiore wore a gown once worn by Judith Kaye, the first woman to serve as chief judge in the state.

Hochul wore white, likely a nod to the women’s suffrage movement.

The newly christened leader previously vowed to help New York turn the page from the tumultuous final six months of Cuomo’s tenure, which were shadowed by misconduct claims, an impeachment probe and questions about his administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

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She promised to ax any Cuomo staffers implicated in the damning report from Attorney General James’ office that revealed the former governor sexually harassed 11 women and presided over a “toxic’’ workplace.

Hochul has said repeatedly she knew nothing of the behavior outlined by investigators in James’ report.

Cuomo, 63, in spite of announcing earlier this month that he would quit rather than face a likely impeachment trial, has remained defiant, refusing to admit to any wrongdoing.

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In a pre-taped farewell address aired on Monday, Cuomo continued to paint the investigation into his behaviour as biased and cast the allegations against him as politically motivated.

The outgoing governor submitted a letter late Monday evening to the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate saying his resignation was effective at midnight.

Hochul, meanwhile, appeared ready to move on, announcing administration appointments the same day.

A moderate Democrat with deep ties to her hometown of Buffalo, Hochul has yet to name a lieutenant governor.

She has said the decision would come before the end of the week, and her choice would likely be someone from the city as she eyes a run for a full term in office next year.

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dpa/NAN

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