“To those New Yorkers who have yet to meet me, I say this – you may not know me. But I know you,” the State of New York’s first female governor, Kathy Hochul, said in her debut public address after being officially sworn in early Tuesday.
One of her favorite speeches, by Theodore Roosevelt, she said, refers to “the man in the arena, who is marred by dust and sweat and blood, in stark contrast to the timid souls on the sideline. Today, for the first time in New York history, a woman will enter that arena as governor.” (The Roosevelt speech is called “The Man In The Arena,” from 1910.)
Hochul made her appearance a few hours after Andrew Cuomo had his special International Emmy rescinded. She ran through priorities from getting kids back to school safely, to tackling the pandemic, racism and opioid addiction, and helping small businesses and struggling cities. It was an introduction and confidence builder, a key first look at their new leader for many New Yorkers at a challenging time and in a state known for its bare-knuckle politics, of which her former boss was a master.
“As I undertake the weighty responsibility before me, know that I have the confidence, the courage and the ability to lead New Yorkers forward and make New York’s women proud. You’ll find me to be direct, straight-talking and decisive. I will not be deterred [from being] bloodied and marred in the process of doing what’s right for the people of this great state,” she said.
The former Lieutenant Governor ascended to replace Cuomo, whose long, tumultuous administration ended last night when he stepped down amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct laid out in a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James. In his farewell address yesterday, Cuomo angrily portrayed himself as the victim of a politically motivated “media frenzy” and said he was leaving only to free the New York state government from distraction.
The state legislature was also in the midst of a broad impeachment investigation.
It is “our time to unleash the power of New York’s women, and to make sure that any barriers to success and opportunity are eradicated once and for all,” Hochul said.
This week she named women as her two top aides. Karen Persichilli Keogh, known in political circles by her initials KPK, will become secretary to the governor, the highest-ranking appointed position in the state. She succeeds Melissa DeRosa, the first woman to hold the position. (DeRosa resigned earlier this month. The AG’s office found that she led efforts to retaliate against one of Cuomo’s accusers who had spoken out publicly.)
Hochul also named Elizabeth Fine as counsel.
She hasn’t yet named a Lieutenant Governor but is reportedly looking for someone in NYC to balance the ticket as she’s from Eastern New York. Cuomo had the same consideration when he picked her as his running mate. Hochul will serve out the remainder of Cuomo’s third term and has announced she will run for election in November 2022.
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