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State May Be Turning Over A New Leaf

With Kathy Hochul becoming Governor, New York State is “turning over a new leaf” in its halls of governance.

The first difference I believe we will notice is one of style and tone–there will be no threats or defiant statements. We got used to that with Andrew Cuomo and, in my view, it was that arrogant side of him that finally brought him down. Kathy Hochul, Governor, will be the kind of down-to-earth, empathetic and articulate person that made her a good Congresswoman and a respected local elected official here in western New York.

The other aspect of governing that I hope she brings to Albany is a return to allowing the departments and agencies of state government do their work without continual interference from the Governor’s office. In Andrew Cuomo’s world, virtually all announcements whether they dealt with transportation, health care or the weather, had to first be politically cleared by the Governor’s office.

When you are Governor, the public expects you to name good, qualified people to head up major departments and agencies of the government. Then they expect that you will give these individuals the ability to implement government policy in the fields to which they are assigned.

Why should nearly every press release dealing with state government action have to be cleared by the Governor’s office? Why do we need to wait for political vetting when it comes to letting state contracts or fighting a snow storm along the Thruway? Hopefully, the Hochul Administration will restore some autonomy to state departments and agencies.

I would also hope that her administration will try and return to some sense of sharing governmental initiatives with the legislature. The Cuomo administration used to “cram-in” all kinds of policy decisions into the state budget so that the legislature would have no time to hold hearings or conduct serious deliberations on them. It is time to get back to a more deliberative type of government where the legislative representatives of the people can interact with the state’s chief executive.

The new Governor Hochul fortunately has a lot of political experience, and she will also have time to put together a campaign for Governor in 2022. It won’t be easy because she is from western New York and the politics of the state is always tilted toward downstate. (The presumptive Republican candidate running for Governor, who has already announced, is from downstate and lives on Long Island.) However, Kathy Hochul in the past won a statewide primary election for Lieutenant Governor–and I would guess that she is ready to engage New York City Democrats in a race for Governor if she wants to.

I think the next few months will be “fun,” if you can call watching state government fun. At least it will be interesting–the first western New Yorker as Governor since Grover Cleveland, the first woman Governor of New York ever. The politics of it all and how it plays out will at least be “captivating.” Maybe that is a better word.

Finally, I think we need to give her a chance at stepping up to the job of being Chief Executive of this very diverse and often divisive state. There is nothing wrong, no matter what your politics, of wishing this fellow western New Yorker “good luck” as she starts her new duties!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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