Hochul: NY Gov’s Office Won’t Be Toxic Workplace On My Watch

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ALBANY, N.Y.  — Suddenly propelled to lead New York, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed Wednesday to set a better tone in state government after the sexual harassment scandal that spurred Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

“Nobody will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” Hochul said in her first news briefing after the Democratic governor announced his resignation.

She said there would be no place in her administration for any Cuomo aides who were implicated in unethical behavior by the state attorney general’s investigation of his behavior toward women.

Hochul, a 62-year-old Democrat from western New York, is set to become the state’s first female governor in two weeks, following a remarkable transition period in which Cuomo has said he will work to ease her into a job that he dominated during his three terms in office.

Hochul has had a political career spanning from a town board to Congress, and as lieutenant governor, she has spent much of her time crisscrossing the state for ribbon-cuttings, announcements and other events. Still, she is unfamiliar to many New Yorkers, and she took the opportunity Wednesday to reintroduce herself and assure them: “I’m ready for this.”

“I’m more prepared than anyone could possibly be for this position,” Hochul said.

While championing such Cuomo-era accomplishments as laws raising the minimum wage and requiring paid family leave for millions of private-sector workers, Hochul strove to put distance between herself and the governor. She said she didn’t spend much time with him and hadn’t been aware of any of the alleged improprieties later described in state Attorney General Letitia James’ report.

Cuomo announced Tuesday that he would step down rather than face a likely impeachment trial after James, a fellow Democrat, released a report concluding he sexually harassed 11 women. One accused him of groping her breast.

Cuomo, 63, denies that he touched anyone inappropriately and said his instinct was to fight back against claims he felt were unfair or fabricated. But he said that with the state still in a pandemic crisis, it was best for him to step aside so the state’s leaders could “get back to governing.”

Hochul purposely kept a modest profile as lieutenant governor in a state where Cuomo commanded — and demanded — the spotlight.

Hochul shares some of Cuomo’s centrist politics but is a stylistic contrast with a governor famous for his love of steamrolling opponents and holding grudges. She’s well-liked by colleagues, who say voters shouldn’t confuse her quiet approach under Cuomo with a lack of confidence or competence.

“People will soon learn that my style is to listen first, then take decisive action,” she said.




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