ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed New Yorkers Wednesday, one day after finding out she would soon become New York’s next governor.
Gov. Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, following a scathing report detailing sexual harassment and misconduct involving 11 women was released by the New York attorney general last week. Calls for his resignation escalated to calls for impeachment, leading to the governor’s announcement.
“I want people to know that I’m ready for this,” Hochul said. “It’s not something that we expected or asked for, but I’m fully prepared to resume the responsibilities of the State of New York.”
Hochul, the highest-ranking female elected official in New York state, is now set to become the first woman governor in New York history. She will hold the office through the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which runs through 2022.
“I spoke with Gov. Cuomo yesterday and he pledged his full support for a smooth transition and I thanked him for his service to our state,” Hochul said. “Regarding his decision to step down, I believe it is appropriate and in the best interest of New York. While it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared. I’ve already spoken with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, labor leaders, business leaders, faith leaders, and other state-elected officials, as well as leaders in the tri-state area. I look forward to working with each and every one of them.”
Cuomo’s resignation takes effect on August 24, but Hochul says she will not wait until then to start the transition into the governor’s office.
“Over the next two weeks I will continue meetings with my current and potential cabinet officials,” Hochul said. “I’ll build out my senior staff, and I’ll do what I’ve always done: Travel the state to meet New Yorkers and listen to them to assure that I have their backs and I will take their concerns and bring them to the state capitol. I’ll work with our partners at every level of government to come to solutions. People will soon learn that my style is to listen first and then take decisive action.
“So in 13 days, I will officially become the 57th governor of New York state and shortly thereafter I look forward to delivering an address to all New Yorkers to layout my vision for the great state of New York, but make no mistake, our work has already begun. I know this year and a half has been so challenging for families and businesses across our state and sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s getting any easier. The delta variant is still raging and it’s going to take all of us to defeat it.
“Our children are heading back to school soon, and there is a lot of anxiety from moms and dads I speak to, and teachers as well,” Hochul said. “It’s going to take all of us working together to keep our children safe, our teachers safe, and anyone who works in schools safe. Small businesses are just starting to bounce back into an uncertain world and we need to assure them they will be OK, and our workers are once again debating if they should even go back to their jobs. I know New Yorkers; they are hardwired to persevere and to prevail.”
Regarding a possible pardon for potential criminal charges against Cuomo, Hochul said it was too soon to speculate on such decisions.
“I’m talking about my vision for the state of New York,” Hochul said when asked about a potential pardon. “It is far too premature to even have that discussion.”
Regarding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Hochul said she is already in communication with key state health officials in how to address the situation.
“Gov. Cuomo will continue to be governor for the next 13 days, but that does not mean I’m not fully engaged with the current commissioners and we’ve been getting regular up-to-the-minute updates and I’m well aware of the circumstances in our state are frightening for people and we will continue at this time to review closely what the CDC puts forth, but I’ll be proud to, and look forward to, sharing my vision for how we address this matter in the coming weeks.”
Despite being the lieutenant governor, Hochul admitted she had not been very close with the governor recently.
“I think it’s very clear that the governor and I have not been close physically or otherwise,” Hochul said. “So I’ve been traveling the state and do not spend much time in his presence or the presence of many in the state capital, and I’m going to stand right here at the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment.”
In regards to Hochul’s choice for her lieutenant governor, she said it’s likely that she announces that choice within the next two weeks, and says she’s going to use her experience in that position to make that selection.
“We’re considering a number of individuals,” Hochul said. “The fortunate thing for me is that I’ve spent so much time in seven years getting to know so many elected officials and community leaders, personally, so I understand who they are. It will be someone who is no stranger to me, but also someone who will carry on the vision of my administration to the strong progressive politics to bring this state forward.”
When asked about her connection to the now embattled Cuomo administration, Hochul says while the exit of the governor wasn’t ideal, she said she was proud to have worked on many policies that have helped New Yorkers.
“Many people have supported the politics of the Cuomo administration,” Hochul said. “There is a strong legacy of accomplishment and I was out there in the streets, fighting for raising the minimum wage, fighting for paid family leave, and I was a champion of policies to eradicate the spectra of heroin abuse, something that has touched my family personally; child care issues, I’ve been out there making announcements on affordable housing, clean energy projects, and economic development. So that will continue, those policies will continue and be even more enhanced.
“But with respect to the environment and the reputation of the current administration, I think it’s pretty clear and it’s no secret that I’m not associated with that,” Hochul said. “I know the job, I fought for the same policies and that’s why I’m the most prepared for this position. My administration will be fully transparent when I’m governor, but I’m not governor yet.”
Watch the full press conference
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC Will provide updates as they become available.