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Brooklyn (mostly) welcomes Gov. Kathy Hochul

August 24, 2021 Mary Frost
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Many of Brooklyn’s movers and shakers welcomed Kathy Hochul, New York State’s 57th governor, on Tuesday with a generous helping of optimism, a pledge of collaboration, and the sense that historic change was coming to an Albany that has been in the iron grip of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo since 2011.

Despite the former governor’s ties to Brooklyn — Andrew Cuomo’s father Mario Cuomo was a “Court Street lawyer” before he became governor of the state — locals seemed more than content to wave goodbye to him. Cuomo is accused of fostering a toxic work environment and sexually harassing women.

Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said in a statement that Hochul was “no stranger to Brooklyn, having worked with the borough on plenty of initiatives, including Vital Brooklyn,” a community development program for Central Brooklyn. “I have spoken to her, and she is receptive and aware of the borough’s needs.

“Today is also a new era of reform and accountability. Hochul has pledged to end the toxic, misogynistic work environment in Albany,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.

According to The New York Times, Bichotte Hermelyn is on the short list to become lieutenant governor, along with other notables including outgoing Bronx borough Pres. Rubén Díaz Jr.

Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of Randy Peers

Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, called Hochul an ally.

“Already, she has begun to put in place an administration that is experienced and forward-looking. Her choices of Karen Persichilli Keogh for secretary to the governor, Elizabeth Fine for counsel and other key positions demonstrate that she’s ready to lead on Day 1,” Scissura said.

“As an ally in Albany, she has worked with the building industry repeatedly on securing critical infrastructure investment, improving the built environment and growing the economy through construction and development.”

Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said the group has pledged its support to Hochul.

“The future holds enormous challenges for New York City in the continued fight against COVID-19, and on behalf of 62,000 small businesses and half of Brooklyn’s workforce, we pledge our full assistance to the governor in every way she believes it to be useful for rebuilding our economy,” Peers said.

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said, “The historic weight of inducting New York’s first female governor today cannot go overlooked or underappreciated. From our state’s founding, it has been a position held by white men, except when those men were confronted with and faced consequences for their own failure and wrongdoing. As we move forward from this latest moment of scandal, I hope we can end this pattern by realizing what the full array of leadership can look like.”

Assemblymember and Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn with Borough President Eric Adams at Brooklyn’s River Café. YouTube photo

Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the new governor and threw in a dig at the previous one, during an interview on MSNBC with Willie Geist.

“There’s no question we can work together,” de Blasio said. “We’ve had a number of good conversations already.” He added, “We have a lot of work to do together, but imagine doing the work together, which wasn’t possible – Willie, I know this will shock you. This will shock you. It was not possible with the previous incumbent.”

Brooklyn lawyer Shirley Paul notarized Hochul’s official Oath of Office documents and tweeted her excitement.

“More than just a notary stamp! This is FAITH & Perseverance. Only God would allow me to witness & literally officially stamp the docs for our First Female @GovKathyHochul and she’s no joke – faith, perseverance & hard work has brought her here,” she tweeted.

Hochul said in an address on Tuesday that she offered a “fresh and collaborative approach. I’ve already reached out my hand in friendship to many elected officials who too, are eager for a new relationship with the state.”

Carlo Scissura. Photo courtesy of Carlo Scissura
New York Building Congress CEO Carlo Scissura. Photo: Carlo Scissura

However, New York State’s Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar, a Brooklynite, felt obligated to point out that Hochul was an integral part of Cuomo’s administration.

“We wish her well as New York’s 57th governor, even as we represent a sharply divergent political viewpoint … Not for nothing, as we say in Brooklyn, but Governor Hochul has been Andrew Cuomo’s chief lieutenant in Albany since 2015. To suggest that she is in no part responsible for that loss of faith is disingenuous in the extreme,” he said.

“Governor Hochul may have been better served by admitting her own culpability in the corruption that went on in Albany these past six years, and asking New Yorkers for forgiveness. Or is that too much for us to expect?”

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