It's pretty ironic that New York finally got its first woman governor because a state attorney general's report found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, some of them state employees. Cuomo, who served as governor since 2011, finally announced Aug. 10, 2021, that he would resign when it became clear any support he had evaporated and impeachment proceedings were all but certain. And as he stepped aside and Hochul was sworn in Aug. 24, 2021, history was made.
Lt. Gov. Kathleen "Kathy" C. Hochul was sworn in as the first woman governor in the state's long history. Having served as lieutenant governor since 2014, Hochul (pronounced HOH-kuhl), is well prepared for the job.
Here are five things you need to know about the woman who is New York's first female governor:
1. She Bleeds Blue
Hochul isn't just a Democrat, she's an Irish-Catholic, blue-collar Democrat. She was born Aug. 27, 1958 (she's almost 63) and grew up in the small town of Hamburg, just outside of Buffalo. Her parents were hard-working people – her dad ran his own IT firm and her mom ran a flower shop and co-founded a shelter for domestic abuse survivors. They both actively supported the civil rights movement and protested the Vietnam War. Their example rubbed off and set the trajectory for Hochul's life.
2. It's All in the Family
During the summer after high school, Hochul got her first taste of politics working on Sen. Patrick Moynihan's political campaign. She went on to Syracuse University for her undergraduate degree and interned at the state Assembly during summer breaks while at Syracuse. While interning, she met her husband, Bill, who was later nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York. (He has since retired and is now general counsel for a private company). After earning her law degree from Catholic University of America, Hochul joined a large law firm but wasn't fulfilled. She left to work as legal counsel to U.S. Rep. John LeFalce and was soon recruited to work as a legislative assistant and legal counsel to Sen. Moynihan.
3. She's Been in Politics a Long Time
Hochul's first elected office was a seat on the Town Board of Hamburg where she served for 14 years. She was the only woman on the board until the following year when another seat opened up and she encouraged her friend to run. In 2003, she was appointed deputy county clerk of Erie County and four years later she was appointed county clerk by then Gov. Eliot Spitzer (another New York governor with a shady past). In 2011, Hochul won a congressional seat in a special election that had been held by Republicans for 40 years though she narrowly lost the seat the following year. While she was in Congress, Hochul served on the House Armed Services and the Homeland Security Committees. In 2014, she became Cuomo's running mate and the rest is now history.
4. She's Issue-oriented
As someone who comes from a solidly middle-class background, Hochul aligns herself with the issues that resonate with those voters – paid family leave, affordable child care, health care and education, and safer gun laws. She is also a feminist who believes strongly in abortion and reproductive rights. She supports LGBTQ rights and the fight for equality. Along with her mother and aunt, Hochul established the Kathleen Mary House in 2006, a transitional home for victims of domestic violence. She worked on immigration legislation when she worked for Sen. Moynihan in the 1980s and still works tirelessly to protect immigrant rights.
5. Her Transition Is Expected to Be Smooth
As lieutenant governor, Hochul served as the President of the New York State Senate, chaired the Regional Economic Development Councils and New York State Women's Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commission. She was also co-chair of the New York State Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force and Community College Councils. Committees. That's all about to change. Hochul is probably assembling a transition team right now. According to one report, she currently has just nine staff members. Job one: Finding a new lieutenant governor. If Hochul doesn't appoint someone immediately, the state Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, would become the acting lieutenant governor until the position is filled. They will serve the remainder of this term, until it expires at the end of 2022. Hochul, along with her lieutenant governor, can run for re-election next year and will do so as incumbents.
Originally Published: Aug 11, 2021