When I reviewed my last blog post from April, I was shocked by how very much has taken place in New York state government during the last six months. On August 10, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced that he was resigning from his office as momentum built in the state Legislature to remove him through impeachment. The decision came a week after New York State Attorney General Leticia James released the results of an investigation that found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women. Cuomo’s fall from grace came only a year after he was widely lauded nationally for his detailed daily briefings and leadership during the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kathy Hochul, Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor, assumed the office and became the first woman to hold that post. The 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress from the Buffalo area, stated that Cuomo’s resignation was “the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”
Governor Hochul quickly set out her priorities which include:
- Combatting the Covid 19 Pandemic – including a safe return to school and a vaccine mandate for all health care workers;
- Pandemic Relief New York renters, landlords and immigrants; and,
- Resetting the tone in Albany, including increased transparency for her office and a strong set of ethics recommendations.
Additionally, the new Governor moved quickly to put in place her team of commissioners and advisors including:
- Brian Benjamin, Lieutenant Governor
- Karen Persichilli Keogh, Secretary to the Governor
- Elizabeth Fine, Counsel to the Governor
- Kathryn Garcia, Director of State Operations
- Robert Mujica, Director of the Budget
- Dr. Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH, Acting Commissioner, Department of Health
More organizational and personnel changes are happening daily, and the new Governor has many challenges to face as she readies herself to run again for governor — in just 13 short months.