This editorial appeared in the Press-Republican on Aug. 24:
PLATTSBURGH — A new era of state government begins today, and let’s hope it is a thoughtful, responsive and prosperous one.
Kathy Hochul, who has served as lieutenant governor under Andrew Cuomo since she was elected on the ticket in 2014, takes the helm today upon the resignation of Cuomo. Cuomo announced he was resigning two weeks ago amidst allegations of sexual harassment and other improprieties.
A report from state Attorney General Letitia James said that Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple women — including former and current state employees — by engaging in unwanted groping, kissing and hugging and making inappropriate comments. The report, which came after five months of investigation, also said that the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story. The Executive Chamber also fostered a “toxic” workplace that enabled “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment,” the report said.
Cuomo was also under fire for his decision to order [novel coronavirus] patients back to nursing homes from hospitals in the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020. He also has been accused of purposely reporting misleading figures of the number of people who died in a nursing home due to [COVID-19]. The former governor is also being investigated for whether state workers were helping him on state-funded time with the publication of a book he authored on the [coronavirus] situation.
The heat was just too much for Cuomo who agreed to step down, even though he maintained his innocence. His departure brings us Hochul, who becomes the first woman governor in state history.
That is a nice milestone, but we would have rather seen it come about in a more traditional way with her winning an election instead of taking over for a disgraced man. Nevertheless, Hochul is now in charge and we look to her to move the state forward after this mess. Financially, the state is in way better shape than it was before COVID, thanks in large part to the federal stimulus packages.
Now, can she work effectively with the Legislature and keep spending in line and keep the books in the black? We hope so.
A native of Buffalo, Hochul is not a stranger to the north country, which bodes well for us. As lieutenant governor, Hochul served as the state chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which has served our region well.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, who served as regional co-chair, says Hochul has her finger on the pulse of issues from broadband, to the region’s transportation cluster to the modernization of the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s sports venues. She has been an accessible and committed partner even during this difficult transition, Douglas said.
Hochul is also well-versed on border issues and the importance of Canada to not only our region but to the state and nation. Taking over for Cuomo under these circumstances cannot be an easy task, and we hope Hochul is up for the job.
Based on what we’ve seen of her in the past and the support that has been pledged to her by local leaders, we like her chances of succeeding. At the very least, it would be nice not to have words like “toxic” and “hostile” thrown around when describing the administration.
© Copyright 2021 Press-Republican