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‘It was past time’: Brooklyn locals, leaders react to Cuomo’s resignation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo looks on before delivering remarks on the coronavirus spread in Manhattan on Nov. 19.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned from office Tuesday, saying he did not want an inevitable impeachment and trial over sexual harassment allegations to distract from the business of the state.

The governor’s resignation will take effect in two weeks, on Aug. 24, at which point, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take the reins as the state’s chief executive. Hochul will be the first woman governor in New York’s history.

The announcement came after about an hour of Cuomo and, before that, his attorney Rita Glavin bashing the investigation into his conduct by State Attorney General Letitia James, whose 165-page report substantiating allegations of sexual harassment by Cuomo against 11 women led to essentially the entire Democratic Party calling for his head. But after picking apart the claims made in the report, Cuomo pivoted, saying that his continued presence would serve as a distraction from the important work of the state.

“New York Tough means New York Loving, and I love New York, and I love you,” Cuomo said from his offices in Manhattan. “And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. 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.”

Incoming Gov. Hochul said she agreed with Cuomo’s decision and is ready to assume the reins of power.

“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.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo’s nemesis, said from vacation in Massachusetts that, while the resignation should have already happened, it was for the good of New Yorkers. “Make no mistake, this is the result of survivors bravely telling their stories,” Hizzoner said. “It was past time for Andrew Cuomo to resign and it’s for the good of all New York.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, fresh off of passing an infrastructure bill in Washington, said he has spoken with Hochul and has full confidence in her.

“First, I want to commend the brave women who stepped forward and courageously told their stories,” Schumer said. “There is no place for sexual harassment, and today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo to resign was the right decision for the good of the people of New York. I have full confidence that Lt Governor Hochul will establish a professional and capable administration. I have spoken with Lt Governor Hochul and look forward to working together to help the people of New York.”

Attorney General James said Cuomo’s resignation ended a “sad chapter” for the state but also opens a new one with Hochul’s breaking the glass ceiling.

“Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice,” James said. “I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, 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. I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”

Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic nominee for Mayor Eric Adams echoed others that Cuomo’s resignation was the right decision and in the best interest of New Yorkers.

“The governor’s resignation was necessary for New York State to move forward and continue the critical work of our recovery,” Adams said. “I look forward to working in partnership with Lieutenant Governor Hochul on the key issues affecting our city and region at this pivotal moment.”

City Councilmember and Democratic nominee for Comptroller Brad Lander said Cuomo’s well-known bullying tactics being defeated was for the good of the city and state. “Abusive, bullying power is insidious. Its defeat matters,” he said, thanking the women who came forward with accusations of harassment, as well as James.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams released a lengthy, scathing statement criticizing Cuomo as having governed in his own interests, and maintaining that his resignation will allow a chance to recover even if he has disagreements with Hochul, whom he challenged in the 2018 primary for Lt. Governor.

“Finally. Many of us have known for a long time that Andrew Cuomo was the wrong Governor for New York,” the statement read in part. “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. 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.”

“Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and I have disagreed in the past about the direction of our state and its leadership,” Williams’ statement continued. “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 Governor Cuomo and those around him who empowered and enabled him, and all the damage the administration has wrought.”

More reactions from Brooklyn pols and civic figures/groups:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: “This has been a tragic chapter in our state’s history. Governor Cuomo’s resignation is the right decision. The brave women who stepped forward were heard. Everyone deserves to work in a harassment free environment. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Hochul and I look forward to working with her.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins: “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. 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. Working with Governor Kathy Hochul, the first woman Governor of New York State, we will continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild our economy and face our challenges standing together. Governor Hochul is a dedicated leader, and united, we will get the people’s work done.”

Councilmember and incoming Borough President Antonio Reynoso: “Cuomo’s resignation is long overdue. I stand with the survivors who bravely came forward and shared their stories. Now, we must focus on delivering real accountability and reforming the culture in Albany. I look forward to working with Kathy Hochul as we lead NY to a just recovery.”

Assemblymember and Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn (on CNN): “This is the beginning of the end of a nightmare for New York State, but the start of an opportunity to have a woman to run this state.” (more here)

Rep. Nydia Velazquez: “I’ve called for Cuomo’s resignation for months. I’m glad he’s stepped aside in light of the AG’s independent report. I stand with the survivors who spoke out against the harassment they faced at the hands of the most powerful man in NY & every woman who has faced similar abuse.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis: “Today’s resignation by Governor Andrew Cuomo is an important first step forward for our state and its citizens. Lieutenant Governor Hochul has a huge job ahad of her; bringing our state together and dealing with the many challenges we face. Over the years, the Lt. Governor and I have crossed paths on a number of occasions. I wish her well in the days and months ahead and I pledge to work with her, where possible, for New Yorkers.” (full statement here)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney: “This is the right decision for New York. I thank the women who bravely spoke up. #believewomen

State Senator Zellnor Myrie: “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.” (full statement here)

State Senator Jabari Brisport: “Never thought I’d see this day.”

State Senator Andrew Gounardes: “Governor Cuomo’s resignation is a victory for the brave women who came forward, at great personal risk, to hold the most powerful person in our state government accountable. Their courage is inspiring, and I want to thank them for sharing these difficult experiences. We must honor their bravery by continuing this conversation and by continuing to root out this behavior from not only the state government, but all workplaces. The first step must be for the Governor to resign immediately, and for all pending investigations to continue to ensure that justice is not delayed and there is full accountability for his actions.” (full statement here)

State Senator Julia Salazar: “We have a responsibility to go through the full impeachment process. Anything less would fail to fully hold the governor accountable, and to prevent his behavior from being repeated in the future.”

Assemblymember Robert Carroll: “.@NYGovCuomo did the right thing by resigning today. Work place harassment has no place in government. Now we can get back to working for the people of New York.”

City Councilmember Justin Brannan: “We must recognize the pain & courage of survivors who came forward. Cuomo’s resignation should send a message to holders of public office at every level: sexual harassment will not be tolerated in NY. I look forward to working with @LtGovHochulNY to rebuild our city & state.”

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca: “@NYGovCuomo resigns in 14 days. Not soon enough.”

Council District 33 Democratic Nominee Lincoln Restler: “A long, dark period in NY politics has finally come to an end. It was ultimately not the many egregious abuses of power over the past decade that brought him down, but the courage of women. Look forward to turning the page and building with a new generation of leadership.”

Council District 35 Democratic Nominee Crystal Hudson: “Thank you to the survivors who came forward. You put everything on the line. YOU are New York tough. We will always, always believe you. Onwards.”

Council District 36 Democratic Nominee Chi Osse: “Thank you to @TishJames and the brave survivors for telling the world your truth. Better days are coming New York.”

Council District 40 Democratic Nominee Rita Joseph: “This is long overdue, but it’s hard for me to say just how excited I am. I’m looking forward to being a constituent of New York State’s first female Governor, @KathyHochul. We’re all cheering for sis.”

Former Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio: “It is regretful that such an outstanding governor who has accomplished so much for the people of the state of New York has now had to step down because of accusations which have now negatively affected his mark in history and for the state of New York. I congratulate my dear friend, Kathy Hochul, on her ascension to this most exalted position and wish her well as she serves the people of New York and I believe she will do so in a competent and outstanding manner which would result in her continued service.”

Reform Democratic Club New Kings Democrats: “Because of the bravery of these women, and the tireless work of @harassment_free and others, NY is changed forever. We must keep pushing for a world where no one is harassed or abused at work.”

Former NYC Transit President, Cuomo micromanaging victim, and Train Daddy Andy Byford (speaking with The City): “I hope that, going forward, the MTA will be given the leeway it needs to deliver New Yorkers the modern, fully accessible transit system that Fast Forward promised. And that can now definitely become a reality.”

Peter Charles Arbeeny, whose father died of COVID-19 in a nursing home and who has called for an apology from Cuomo, in a letter to Hochul inviting her to his home: “You have a chance to restore many people’s faith in democracy. The Cuomo administration has been on the wrong side of history. Our elected leadership in Albany would benefit from a clean break.”

Everyday New Yorkers also have thoughts on the governor’s resignation. Jorge Romero, a tech worker who was eating lunch at Albee Square in Downtown Brooklyn, said that resignation was the right decision for the governor.

“I think he made the right decision,” Romero said. “He has a lot of allegations against him that have been proven in the report and I think what he did was right, it was the right time, he was facing impeachment, and I think that was going to happen.”

Greg Henry of Greenwood Heights, meanwhile, noted that if there’s any lesson to come from the whole Cuomo saga, it’s that you should not be a perv at work.

“I think this is a very simple lesson that some people just don’t want to be touched,” Henry said. “Don’t do that at work, don’t be creepy at work.”

This is a developing story, it will be updated as more reactions come in.

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