Kathy Hochul, New York's First Female Governor, Promises She's 'Up to the Task'

Kathy Hochul, now officially sworn in as New York's first female governor, promised that she's "up to the task" while talking to the Buffalo television station WGRZ, the Associated Press reported. Hochul plans to communicate her readiness for the position during a public address at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.

"I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders and I'll tell New Yorkers I'm up to the task. And I'm really proud to be able to serve as their governor and I won't let them down," Hochul told WGRZ while leaving the state Capitol early Tuesday morning.

Hochul was sworn in as governor shortly after midnight, when former Governor Andrew Cuomo's resignation took effect. The function was brief and private, with a more ceremonial swearing-in event scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kathy Hochul Sworn In
New York Governor Kathy Hochul promised that she's "up to the task" Tuesday morning after officially becoming the state's governor following Andrew Cuomo's resignation. New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore (left) swears in Hochul as the first woman to be New York's governor while her husband, Bill Hochul, holds a bible during a swearing-in ceremony in the Red Room at the state Capitol, early Tuesday, August 24, 2021, in Albany. Hans Pennink/AP Photo

Over the next few months, Hochul, who was a little-known figure as lieutenant governor, will have an opportunity to reshape the way power works in Albany, where Cuomo dominated decision-making for years before being felled in a sexual harassment scandal.

For generations, it's been said that all of the real decisions in the state government were made by "three men in a room," the governor and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly.

Now, for the first time in state history, two of those three—Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins—are women. Only the state Assembly is led by a man, Speaker Carl Heastie.

Cuomo left office at 12 a.m., two weeks after he announced he would resign rather than face an impeachment battle that seemed inevitable after a report by independent investigators, overseen by Attorney General Letitia James, concluded he had sexually harassed 11 women.

On his final day in office, Cuomo released a pre-recorded farewell address in which he again said he was innocent and portrayed himself as the victim of a "media frenzy."

Hochul takes over with the state still dealing with rolling crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the coming weeks she is expected to make decisions about whether to mandate masks for children returning to school—something she's already said she favors.

She will be under pressure to get federal rent relief money into the hands of tenants. Little of the $2 billion set aside by the federal government to help New Yorkers pay off rent debt has been distributed to date in the state and thousands face the possibility of eviction if the state allows protections to expire.

And Hochul faces questions about whether she'll change the culture of governance in New York, where many other top Democrats have, for years, complained about being shut out of key decisions and bullied by Cuomo.

Former Governor David Paterson, who, like Hochul, unexpectedly became governor when his predecessor resigned, said she will need to restore faith in the office.

"There's going to be some pressure on Governor Hochul, as there was on me, to kind of restore the values and to restore the conduct and the decorum that bespeaks a governor," Paterson said.

She'll also have to work quickly. Hochul has already said she intends to run for a full term next year, and will have just months to establish herself as the favorite before a spring Democratic primary.

In the meantime, she'll be building an administration—a task that began early Tuesday with the oath of office.

DiFiore administered the oath in front of a stone fireplace in a room at the Capitol, atop which were placed family pictures.

Hochul, her husband, Bill Hochul, and DiFiore entered the room wearing masks, taking them off when the ceremony began. Hochul placed her hand on a bible held by her smiling husband, a former federal prosecutor and current general counsel for Buffalo-based food service and hospitality company Delaware North.

Hochul signed a pile of papers—including the oath—using a set of ten pens dated "August 24, 2021," while her family stood behind her looking on. She then thanked individual members of her staff, and told them she'd see them tomorrow before she left the room.

Hochul Signs Documents at Ceremony
New York Governor Kathy Hochul will give a public address Tuesday afternoon after officially replacing former Governor Andrew Cuomo as the state's leader. From left, family members Katie Hochul and Matt Gloudeman, Bill Hochul (center) and Will and Christina Hochul watch as Kathy Hochul, the first woman to be New York's governor, signs documents during a swearing-in ceremony in the Red Room at the state Capitol, early Tuesday, August 24, 2021, in Albany. Hans Pennink/AP Photo