By Rick Pezzullo—-
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he was resigning from the seat he’s held the last 11 years, becoming the ninth chief executive in the state’s history to step down before their elected term was up.
Cuomo, who has been reeling since the release last week of an in-depth report from state Attorney General Letitia James that alleged he sexually harassed 11 women and created a hostile working environment, defended his behavior but maintained he didn’t want to become a distraction with the Legislature poised to launch impeachment proceedings.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside,” Cuomo said in a lengthy address from his Manhattan office. “This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today, government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death. Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing [the] state government should be doing.”
Cuomo’s resignation will officially take place on August 24. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will then take over, becoming the first female in the history of the state to hold the position.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” said Hochul, 62. “As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”
Several area state leaders were quick to react to Cuomo’s departure.
“Today is a somber day for the State of New York, but one that demonstrates our ability to build a more accountable system of government,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Governor Cuomo’s resignation opens the door to a restorative future. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the courageous women who came forward and helped pave the way for safer and more inclusive work spaces.”
“The resignation of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was necessary to allow state governance to proceed, and I am grateful for this decision,” said State Senator Pete Harckham. “Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will lead New York State admirably, and I wish her the best in the months ahead.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer welcomed Hochul to the job.
“Westchester County, and my administration, stand ready to work with incoming Governor Kathy Hochul when she assumes the governorship later this month. For years, incoming Governor Hochul has been a welcomed presence in Westchester County. She is well qualified to lead New York State in this immediate crisis,” Latimer stated. “Also, for all New Yorkers, let us recognize this historic moment – that New York will for the first time in our history have a female Governor. Times have changed – as they should.”