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Kathy Hochul, First Female Governor of NY

Kathleen Courtney Hochul, American politician and lawyer, was born in Buffalo, NY. She attended Syracuse University, where she became politically active. Upon graduating Catholic University Columbus School of Law in 1984, Kathy began working at a DC law firm. Followed by work as a legal counsel and legislative assistant to U.S. Representative John LaFalce and U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan, as well as for the New York State Assembly.

She was elected as the Democratic and Conservative Party candidate to the Hamburg Town Board in November 1994 and served until 2007. Hochul led efforts to remove toll booths on parts of the New York State Thruway system.

In 2003, Hochul was appointed as Erie County Clerk David Swarts' deputy. 4 years later, upon Swarts departure, Governor Eliot Spitzer promoted Hochul to his former post.

In an unexpected move she opposed Spitzer's proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license without producing a social security card, and said that if the proposal went into effect she would seek to arrest any such applicants. However, as lieutenant governor, Hochul reversed her stance, saying, “This is a different climate right now. I would say my position now is different.”

In 2011, Hochul won the 2011 special election for New York's 26th congressional district. However, in 2012, her district was renumbered the 27th district and ultimately lost reelection to Chris Collins. In 2014, after Robert Duffy decided not to run for reelection as lieutenant governor, Governor Cuomo named Hochul as his choice.

The Present

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo's resignation, Kathleen Hochul will become New York's first female governor. Hochul tweeted, "I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. 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."

Prior to Cuomo's resignation, Hochul tweeted, “I believe these brave women & admire their courage coming forward. No one is above the law.”

Before her run for lieutenant governor, Hochul was considered a moderate. As county clerk, she built up a pro-gun record, which led her to be endorsed by the National Rifle Association during her congressional reelection campaign in 2012. She has since reversed her stance on gun laws and backed the NY SAFE Act, a state law that is one of the toughest gun control laws in the country.

This places Hochul in a strong position to win the 2022 gubernatorial election. Other possible candidates include: Attorney General Letitia James, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

There is a possible conflict of interest for the newly minted governor. William J. Hochul is a senior executive at Delaware North, a Buffalo-based hospitality, food service, and gambling giant. He serves as senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary; managing all legal affairs, which includes regulatory and legal compliance requirements for its global footprint.

Delaware North operations that involve state oversight include: Buffalo Bills stadium, Niagara Falls State Park, concessions at Thruway travel plazas, two upstate airports, and casinos in Hamburg and the Finger Lakes.

A spokesperson for Kathy Hochul said, “There was a recusal process already in place for her as lieutenant governor. It is being evaluated now in her new role as governor. It will be completed before she takes office."

Senior research analyst at the Public Accountability Initiative, Robert Galbraith suggested, "Ideally, from the perspective of good governance, he (William Hochul) steps down or takes some sort of leave of absence."

William Hochul also served on the board of directors for the nonprofit Kaleida Health, which operates the region's largest hospital network. He tendered his resignation from the board on Tuesday. Board Chair Frank Curci said in a statement, "He said it was effective immediately and it was done to avoid even the appearance of conflicts."

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