State and local leaders say they look forward to a new chapter in New York State government after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, a week after a scathing independent investigation commissioned by State Attorney General Letitia James found the governor allegedly harassed multiple women over a seven-year period from 2013-2020.
With Cuomo’s resignation, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo Democrat, will become New York’s first female governor in two weeks, once Cuomo’s resignation becomes effective, the Associated Press reported. Hochul has served two terms as lieutenant governor under Cuomo.
Eight states currently have female governors, according to the AP. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is set to take on the duties of lieutenant governor.
The AP noted Cuomo’s resignation comes one year after the governor’s daily COVID-19 briefings captured national attention during the early stages of the pandemic.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down,” Hochul said in a Tweet. “It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th governor.”
The AP reported Hochul has not said if she will pursue a full term as governor in 2022.
“Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice,” James said in a statement Tuesday. “I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day. We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state. I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Hastie said the governor’s resignation was the right move calling these allegations a tragic chapter in our state’s history. “The brave women who stepped forward were heard. Everyone deserves to work in a harassment-free environment,” Hastie said. “I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Hochul and I look forward to working with her.
State Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli said the Governor has done the right thing. “New York is facing many challenges as we battle the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” the comptroller said in a statement. “My team and I stand ready to assist incoming Governor Hochul as we move the state forward.”
State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties) called Cuomo’s resignation a “necessary step toward restoring trust, transparency and accountability in our state government and represents a historic shift in New York State.”
“This moment would not be possible without the brave women who shared their stories in the face of fear, retribution and scare tactics,” Hinchey said in a statement. “We owe them a tremendous amount of gratitude, for, without their courage, we would not be here today.
Hinchey, whose district spans parts of Ulster, Schenectady, Albany counties and all of Greene and Montgomery county said the state needs leaders focused on rebuilding the state and improving the lives of people and family and everywhere.
“While we continue to face many challenges, I look forward to working with Kathy Hochul, a fellow upstate woman, who will make history, and more importantly, be a strong partner in delivering meaningful results for our communities.”
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan called it an important moment to New York and thanked the many women who came forward to demand “accountability and justice for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reprehensible and abhorrent behavior.
“We will now finally have our first woman governor, and I am very optimistic about the future of New York under Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership,” Ryan said in a statement. “She is the real deal — a proven public servant who understands how government works and will lead our State forward with integrity.”
Ryan added she has always been there for Ulster County and he looks forward to partnering with her.
Last week, the independent investigators, Joon H. Kim and Anne Clark, released a report after completing a five-month investigation that found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including former and current state employees through unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and making inappropriate statements.
The investigation began on March 1, 2021, when the Executive Chamber made a referral for Attorney General James to select independent lawyers to investigate sexual harassment claims made against the governor. Kim and Clark were selected to lead the investigation on March 8, 2021.
Multiple women came forward starting in December 2020 with allegations that Cuomo had sexually harassed them, according to James. During the course of the investigation, investigators interviewed 179 individuals including complainants current and former members of the Executive Chamber, New York State Police additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor, James said.
Investigators poured over more than 74,000 documents, emails, texts and pictures as evidence during the investigation, James said. That turned up multiple or former state employees or women outside of state service who were targets of the governor’s harassing conduct, the AG said.