Hochul sworn in as New York's first female governor

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would bring a new style to New York's state Capitol as she was ceremonially sworn in on Tuesday morning to succeed former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned on Monday night.

Hochul is New York’s first female governor. She paid tribute to the women's suffrage movement by wearing white, the color associated with the movement. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who administered the oath, wore a robe used by the first woman to serve as New York's chief judge, Judith Kaye.

“I look forward to a fresh, collaborative approach," Hochul said during brief remarks following the ceremony. "That’s how I’ve always conducted myself, it’ll be nothing new for me, but it’s something I’m planning on introducing to the state Capitol."

Hochul’s official swearing-in was held at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, in a private event. Cuomo's resignation took affect two minutes earlier. He stepped down after state Attorney General Tish James issued a report detailing accusations of sexual harassment by 11 women.

Hochul said addressing the pandemic, getting aid to renters threatened with eviction and changing the culture in Albany would be among her priorities. Lawmakers and tenant advocates have raised concerns about the slow pace of rental assistance funded by the federal government.

After the ceremony, Hochul met privately with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Stewart-Cousins was upbeat after the meeting. She called any discussion of specifics on an expiring eviction moratorium, the distribution of aid to renters or a potential special session “premature.”

“It feels good,” Stewart-Cousins said of the change in leadership. “It’s a collaborative tone and it’s a sense of whatever has to be done we will do to make the lives of New Yorkers better.”

Heastie, speaking to reporters in a hallway in the state Capitol, said the meeting was a very preliminary discussion. He said that making sure that aid gets out to renters and homeowners is a major priority but that no final decisions have been made.

Heastie will be the only man in the room during three-way budget negotiations between the governor and two legislative chambers. “This is probably the happiest time for me to be in the minority,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. Anytime a glass ceiling is broken it’s good for all of us.”

Earlier in the day, Hochul said she spoke with President Joe Biden, who pledged his support in the ongoing cleanup from Tropical Storm Henri.

Hochul also said she’d address delays in distributing money to workers, often undocumented, who were ineligible for unemployment or other aid during the pandemic.

“These people were not eligible for other forms of assistance and they’re hurting. They’re part of the New York family,” she said.

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