(WETM) – Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul spoke to her state today as she prepares to take over in less than two weeks. She will have to act quickly, responding to many key issues facing the state. Experts say this moment provides both challenges and opportunities for Hochul.
“I will fight like hell for you every single day like I’ve always done, and always will,” Lt. Gov. Hochul said when addressing the press corp today.
She demonstrated confidence and strength at the podium, outlining her commitment to her state. Lt. Gov. Hochul said multiple times Wednesday there is only one leader at a time and she will make changes once she takes the reigns.
Her message to New Yorkers was a simple one: she will continue to fight for them and travel the state to meet them. She wants to bring their concerns back to Albany.
Lt. Gov. Hochul was careful to separate herself from the Cuomo Administration, saying some of the policies and political strides made were positive, but she and Governor Cuomo were not close.
The new leader will have to address increasing COVID-19 cases, decreasing vaccination rates statewide, a Federal potential infrastructure package, and the careful balance between Upstate and Downstate leaders in Albany.
“This infrastructure deal is an opportunity to direct some of those dollars to areas that have been shortchanged in the Albany budgets in the past years because so much of the budget goes to New York City,” Michael Dawidziak, political consultant and pollster, told 18 News.
In her statement today, Lt. Gov. Hochul said she will make significant changes to both the working environment and the personnel in the executive branch.
“I want to stand right here, at the end of my term whenever that ends. No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” Lt. Gov. Hochul added.
Upstate politicians hope she does not forget about her roots in Western New York, as Downstate interests in the past have trumped Upstate priorities. One local Republican hopes to work with her in a bipartisan effort to accomplish political goals.
“[I hope she] tries to restore trust and confidence back into our state government,” Assemblymember Palmesano of District 132 said.
Another priority for the new state leader is distinguishing herself from the scandal that has overshadowed the governor’s office for more than a decade.
“She will not be another Andrew Cuomo,” Professor Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University added.
The overwhelming takeaway from Lt. Gov. Hochul’s comments Wednesday is that she is poised and prepared to take charge.
“I’m ready. I want people to know that I’m ready for this,” Lt. Gov. Hochul concluded.
When asked who her second-in-command would be and if it would be someone from Downstate, Hochul took a pause and smiled, saying it would be someone who would bring diversity and be a familiar face to New Yorkers. She plans on addressing the public again in two weeks.