New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Tuesday welcomed the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying that “many of us have known for a long time that Andrew Cuomo was the wrong governor for New York.”
“The last several months have plainly revealed that to the world, as brave women who endured the governor’s abuse have spoken out, and as his administration has attempted to attack and ignore them,” said Williams. “And while I hope that today gives the survivors of his conduct some semblance of peace and measure of justice, it is not a day of triumph and celebration, even the words of his resignation statement inflicted pain on survivors across the state.
“Today I am reflecting on the totality of the harm done, the systems that enable it, and the work ahead to dismantle those systems,” he added. “Andrew Cuomo has only ever been interested in his own interests. As a result of his forced resignation, state government can now work solely for the people of New York.
“Resignation does not undo the harm he inflicted on the women who came forward, nor does it reduce the damage that his abusive governance has long wrought, but it creates an opportunity to begin to recover,” Williams continued.
He said while he and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul have disagreed in the past about the direction of the state and its leadership, at the same time, in assuming this role, “we need her to stabilize New York in a perilous moment and against an incessant volley of crises, and I — as we all should be — am ready to work with her to recover from this pandemic and rebuild New York.
“I hope that, over the coming months, she will be able to begin to address the toxic culture created by Gov. Cuomo and those around him who empowered and enabled him, and all the damage the administration has wrought,” the public advocate said.
“It is my hope that this serves as a time for us to reframe notions of what a strong public servant should embody: Being a leader, rather than playing one on TV; fighting for justice, not for power; serving the needs of the oppressed, not propping up the oppressor,” he added. “With Gov. Cuomo removed from the position of power that he long abused, I am optimistic that we can restore that power to the people and repurpose it to renew New York.”
In announcing his resignation on Tuesday, amid heightened calls for him to step down and an impending impeachment hearing in the State Assembly, Cuomo said his resignation would be effective in 14 days.
The announcement came after a scathing report last week from State Attorney General Letitia James that found that the governor had sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation,” said Cuomo in his televised resignation. “Government really needs to function today. Government needs to perform — it is a matter of life and death, government operations — and wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that.
“And I think that, given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” he added. “And, therefore, that’s what I’ll do because I work for you, and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. Because, as we say, it’s not about me. It’s about we.
“Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent,” Cuomo continued. “This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the Delta variant, and so should you be. But she can come up to speed quickly, and my resignation will be effective in 14 days.”
James said: “Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice.
“I thank Gov. Cuomo for his contributions to our state,” she said in a statement. “The ascension of our Lt. Gov., Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day.
“We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state,” James added. “I know our state is in good hands with Lt. Gov. Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”
Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie, who represents the 20th Senate District in Central Brooklyn, noted that New York faces “significant challenges at this moment: Rising COVID cases, economic uncertainty facing renters and homeowners, and an epidemic of gun violence among many others.
“These challenges demand focused, steady leadership that isn’t distracted by personal grievances or drawn-out litigation,” said Myrie, whose grand-mother hailed from Jamaica. “The governor’s decision to step down means that we can get back to the urgent business of strengthening our state and its people.
“I am grateful to the women who risked their careers and reputations to come forward and share their experiences,” he added. “We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude, and we can show that gratitude by ensuring our workplaces are safe and free from harassment, abuse and retaliation.
“I look forward to working with incoming Gov. Hochul to rebuild the trust and accountability New Yorkers should expect from their government, and to working together to address the challenges we face to build a better, brighter future,” Myrie continued.