New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned after a lengthy investigation found he sexually harassed 11 women. Kathy Hochul, Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, will take his position in 14 days, becoming the first woman to hold that office.
Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, though he disputed many of the report’s allegations. A day before he resigned, members of the State Assembly met to prepare impeachment proceedings against him.
“In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” Cuomo said.
Bushwick resident Corey Jermaine said he saw the resignation coming, even though Cuomo initially dug his heels in.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, resigned Sunday. On Monday, the day before Cuomo stepped down, the speaker of the State Assembly, Carl E. Heastie, made clear that impeachment was inevitable for Cuomo.
“As much as [Cuomo] tried to fight it, I just think in the current climate that once those allegations are on you, it’s pretty much a wrap,” Jermaine said.
Bushwick resident Vienna Poiesz said she thought Cuomo should have stepped down when the allegations of sexual harassment were first publicly heard, in early March.
“I think we need to make way for other politicians to come into the office that are not harming women,” Poiesz said. “That’s an extremely basic ask.”
A Brooklynite who works in state politics and asked to remain anonymous said Hochul experienced the toxic culture in Cuomo’s administration first hand.
“Hochul has also been another woman that’s allowed Cuomo to appropriate her work. She’s doing a lot of good work, we just don’t see her own name on it. In the Cuomo administration, that’s the way to survive.”
The Brooklynite also said Cuomo’s toxic administration caused problems that affected his constituents directly and is hopeful Hochul will improve the lives of New Yorkers.
“Ultimately the behavior Cuomo was perpetuating is unacceptable, but it reaches way further than just calling women ‘honey.’ It is a larger toxicity that makes it harder for individuals who need the government to get services.”
“At the end of the day, I think this is the right move,” Bushwick resident Preston Lee said. “Having representation and moving forward is important.”
With COVID cases rising again, Cuomo said the impeachment proceedings, which appeared inevitable, would cost precious time and resources, better spent on getting the virus under control and safely reopening the state.
“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said. “And therefore, that’s what I’ll do.”
“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,” Hochul said. “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.”
The 165-page report released by the New York State Attorney General’s office following a months-long investigation found Cuomo abused power by nonconsensually groping, touching and kissing female coworkers, in addition to making offensive comments of a sexual nature, breaking state and federal law.
Cuomo could still be impeached and face legal consequences. Lindsey Boylan, one of the 11 women from the report, has launched a lawsuit against him.
“We have a responsibility to go through the full impeachment process,” State Senator Julia Salazar said. “Anything less would fail to fully hold the governor accountable, and to prevent his behavior from being repeated in the future.”
Salazar represents much of northern Brooklyn, centering on Bushwick.
Attorney General Letitia James said Cuomo’s decision to step down marks an important step toward justice.
“The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day,” James said. “We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said Hochul, who will be taking over Cuomo’s position, is an excellent choice for Brooklyn.
“Throughout her career, Hochul has supported labor, working families and empowered other women,” Hermelyn said. “In Brooklyn, Hochul is no stranger to us on a number of initiatives, such as Vital Brooklyn, and she will continue to be welcomed.”
A poll released last week showed 59%of New Yorkers thought Cuomo should resign. Of the 11 Bushwick residents spoken to by BK Reader, not one thought Cuomo should have stayed in office.
Cuomo lost many allies this past week. A year ago, the governor was being hailed as a national hero for his leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, many lawmakers have released statements against him.
NY Public Advocate Jumaane Williams released a long, scorching statement criticizing Cuomo as having governed in his own interests. Williams said Cuomo’s resignation will allow a chance to recover, though Williams has disagreements with Hochul.
“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,” Williams said.
Gabi Trespalacios, a life-long Bushwick resident, said perhaps the decision to resign was not as selfless as Cuomo said it was in his speech Tuesday.
“Maybe Cuomo made the right call because now he doesn’t have to face as much publicity,” Trespalacios said.
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