New York Gets Its First Female Governor

From midnight on Tuesday, Kathy Hochul becomes the first woman governor of New York. She is taking command of a state and local government hungry to get back to work after months and months of diversions over sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Andrew Cuomo.

The liberal from western New York was inaugurated as governor in a quick, special ceremony presided over by Janet DiFiore, the county’s chief justice. In a metropolis where women have just lately started to chisel away at a famously male-dominated political system, Hochul’s ascension to the top office was a watershed moment.

Cuomo is a Thing of the Past

Cuomo resigned at 12 a.m., a couple of weeks after announcing his decision to retire, instead of facing an impeachment process. He handed in his letter of resignation to the heads of the state legislature and senators late Monday.

Cuomo delivered a pre-recorded goodbye statement on his last day in office, defending his performance as governor of New York for more than a decade and portraying himself as the target of a “media storm.”

Hochul was set to take the oath of office at the New York State Capitol early on Tuesday morning. Late morning, she intended to meet with parliamentary leadership before giving a public statement at 3 p.m.

For the very first occasion in New York state politics, a majority of the most influential people (notably statewide Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, State Attorney Letitia James, and Presiding Judge DiFiore) will be female. Speaker Carl Heastie is the only man left; he is the speaker of the State Assembly.

Hochul will face enormous problems as she takes over an agency that has been chastised for procrastination during Cuomo’s final months in office. From late June, reported cases of COVID-19 have increased by roughly 1,370 percent. Even as classrooms prepare to reopen, hospitalizations are on the rise.

How Will Hochul Deal with Covid?

If the state’s latest wave of infections intensifies, major decisions must be made about whether to enforce masks or vaccines for particular populations, as well as whether to reinstate social distance regulations. Hochul has stated that she supports making masks compulsory for kids; this comes in contradiction to Cuomo, who stated that he lacked the authority to do so.

The industry is still in flux. Jobs that were lost even during the epidemic have started to return, but joblessness is twice as high as it was two years ago. NYC has also failed to get federal assistance funds to tenants who have fallen well behind on their rent as a result of the outbreak, releasing only 6% of the $2 billion planned so far.

If the system requires eviction safeguards to expire, tens of thousands of people could lose their homes. Hochul also faces challenges about whether she would reform New York’s governing culture after a Cuomo government that prioritized force over charm.

Cuomo resigned once an independent inquiry led by New York Attorney General Letitia James found compelling evidence that he sexually assaulted at least 11 women.