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Kathy Hochul Sworn In -- First Female Governor of NY

Kathleen Courtney Hochul became the first female governor of New York on Tuesday at midnight. The state's chief judge, Janet DiFiore, oversaw the swearing in at the New York State Capitol. With Kathy Hochul's ascension, there are now nine women serving as Governor in America. A record set in 2004, then matched in 2007 and 2019.

Afterwards, the newly minted governor said she felt "the weight of responsibility" on her shoulders. "I'll tell New Yorkers I'm up to the task. And I'm really proud to be able to serve as their governor and I won't let them down."

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University said, "New York as a whole has been a tough place for women to break into the highest levels, because there is very much a tight set of powerful gatekeepers. And unfortunately — even in 2021 — women are still seen, in effect, as newcomers."

Previous governor Andrew Cuomo released a recorded farewell address upon leaving office. Cuomo said about the attorney general's report that triggered his resignation was designed to be "a political firecracker on an explosive topic, and it did work. There was a political and media stampede. I tried my best to deliver for you."

Cuomo was the subject a five month-long probe, headed Attorney General Letitia James, that conducted 179 interviews, finding 11 credible accusers, and concluded that there was sufficient evidence of sexual harassment. Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said the governor was exploring his options for his post-gubernatorial life but had "no interest in running for office again."

Governor Hochul's swearing in marks the first time, a majority of the most powerful figures in New York state government will be women. The others include state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Attorney General Letitia James, and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.

Governor Hochul said, "I have a different approach to governing. "I get the job done because I don't have time for distractions, particularly coming into this position." She plans to appoint two top aides: Karen Persichilli Keogh for Secretary to the Governor and Elizabeth Fine for chief legal counselor. The plan is to keep on Cuomo-era employees for 45 days, but she will not keep anyone found to have behaved unethically.

State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs said of Hochul, "She's very experienced and I think she'll be a refreshing and exciting new governor."

Some have brought up potential conflict of interests between the new governor and her husband's work. Hochul promised that her work and that of her husband, an executive at Delaware North, will not create ethically problematic circumstances.

Hochul responded, “My husband was a federal prosecutor for 30 years, so even when I was in Congress, we were well-accustomed to keeping our work very separate. I understand concerns, and I’ve reached out to outside ethics experts to come up with these ironclad policies so no one will ever question that there’s any involvement of my husband and anything pertaining to the state of New York.”

William Hochul will remain with Delaware North, but has already resigned from his board of directors position at Kaleida Health. He served at the non-profit health-care system for the past two years.

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