Kathy Hochul Interview: ‘I Really feel a Heavy Weight of Accountability’

ALBANY, N.Y. — Governor Kathy C. Hochul, the primary lady in historical past to steer New York, took the helm this week below extraordinary circumstances, as she changed a disgraced governor and moved to confront staggering public well being, instructional and financial challenges throughout the state.

Minutes after sketching out her imaginative and prescient in her preliminary handle as governor on Tuesday, Ms. Hochul — a Western New York Democrat — sat down with The New York Instances on the State Capitol. In a wide-ranging interview, the comparatively little-known government mentioned her governing philosophy and her plans for the state, her political leanings (“I’m a Biden Democrat”) and her ambitions for her new group (she has selected her lieutenant governor, she stated).

And she or he provided a few of her most in depth remarks so far about how she contrasts with Andrew M. Cuomo, whom she changed in workplace following his resignation.

Under are edited and condensed excerpts from the interview with Ms. Hochul, 62, whose outstanding political rise has taken her from native official to congresswoman, and now from lieutenant governor to one of the vital consequential jobs within the nation.

You’re making historical past as the primary feminine governor to steer New York. To what extent does that really feel significant to you?

I really feel a heavy weight of accountability on my shoulders.

I take it very significantly, my place as first feminine governor. However I would like on the finish of my time period — phrases — to guarantee that no lady, no woman, no teenager ever feels there’s something they will’t do.

How ought to New Yorkers choose whether or not your tenure was successful?

Will we get stuff executed? I’m direct. I’ve a really targeted agenda. And I maintain myself to the best requirements. I choose myself extra harshly than any voter, or any New Yorker, will.

Decide me by particular accomplishments by way of what I introduced at this time and what I’ll announce within the State of the State handle, and maintain me accountable to these ambitions. However on the finish of the day, I would like individuals to say that I performed a serious function in restoring individuals’s confidence within the capability of state authorities to be on their facet, to struggle for them, and once more — I’ll say it once more — to get issues executed.

Are you, as governor, directing lecturers statewide to get the vaccine?

I would like everybody within the state of New York to get the vaccine, significantly lecturers, and people who find themselves in a college surroundings — or have a testing requirement, frequent testing.

Nevertheless, the governor doesn’t possess the chief powers that had been in place a yr in the past, so I will probably be working arduous, growing partnerships with these stakeholders who can work with me to get this executed.

Governor Cuomo’s response to the pandemic was typically criticized for being too top-down and dismissive of public well being specialists’ recommendation. How will your strategy differ from his?

I’m hard-wired to view every little thing that Albany does by means of the lens of a neighborhood city, metropolis, county official.

That’s a shift in philosophy. I’m right here, prepared — I’m going to offer you route; I’ll again you up. However I additionally don’t wish to take away powers that relaxation with you, as a result of I do know what that seems like.

I used to be in that place when Albany can be so heavy-handed. However I additionally suppose a pandemic requires a robust response. I’ll give robust responses. I’m decisive. And I’ll again every little thing I do up with session with people who find themselves within the area.

What’s the acceptable stability between demonstrating government management and deferring to native officers?

It’s session with the locals, after which the buck stops with me.

Your predecessor was recognized to have a heavy hand with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. How a lot authority are you trying to assert over the M.T.A.?

I’ve already had conversations with management; I’ve been briefed on our vital tasks, and I wish to get them executed.

Authority doesn’t need to be concentrated in me once I’m hiring excellent professionals who know their jobs. I will probably be there if there’s one thing that’s not following what I would like. However I additionally know that day after day, they’re those that need to be accountable. Accountable to the riders, accountable to me. However I additionally know that granting extra freedom permits them to rise.

You’ve been in New York politics a very long time, however you’ve additionally been open about the truth that you didn’t work carefully with Governor Cuomo. Should you weren’t particularly concerned in his policymaking choices, what do you say to individuals who query whether or not you’ve gotten the managerial expertise to steer the state ahead?

If they’ve any questions on my capability to steer, converse to each single one who’s in authorities with me, as a result of they know I convey up a collaborative strategy to authorities. And I do know that that’s going to be a breath of contemporary air. I’ve heard that from numerous present workers, cupboard members, heads of businesses, heads of authorities.

Not being in each single room means I used to be elsewhere studying the state like no different. No person is aware of the state — no particular person alive is aware of the state the best way I do. That’s as a result of I got down to make this function, redefine it as I’ve each single function I’ve had. I’ve executed that as lieutenant governor, and that’s why I’ve the breadth of data, relationships and only a deep love for the state.

One factor that was most likely not in your job description as lieutenant governor was publicly disagreeing with Governor Cuomo. Now that you’re governor, what’s one principal coverage distinction that you just had with him?

I assumed we should always have executed extra with the New York Metropolis Housing Authority. I feel there’s nonetheless a chance. So many individuals reside in squalor. The warmth just isn’t dependable within the wintertime. It’s too scorching within the summertime. Issues are breaking down, and I wish to get again to the nuts and bolts. Everyone has the dignity, even the dignity of getting an excellent roof over their heads.

I’ve seen how transformative it’s once you give individuals a secure house, one thing that so many take as a right, however should you don’t have it, it’s terrifying.

In order that’s one space the place I’d spend extra public effort and time.

Do you intend to make use of your affect to assist Democrats increase the Home majority by means of the redistricting course of?

Sure. I’m additionally the chief of the New York State Democratic Social gathering. I embrace that.

I’ve a accountability to steer this get together, in addition to the federal government. I’m going to be doing no matter I can to let individuals know that the values of the Democratic Social gathering at this time are a part of who I’m, combating for those who simply had a troublesome blow dealt to them in life.

The Democratic Social gathering has to regain its place that it as soon as had once I was rising up. My grandparents had been F.D.R. Democrats. My dad and mom had been J.F.Ok. Democrats.

Immediately, I’m a Biden Democrat.

Are you saying that as a result of he’s the president or since you share comparable worldviews?

As a result of it comes from a view that each one of us have an ethical accountability to struggle for the underdog.

That’s what I’ve executed my entire life. To interact in insurance policies, like combating for the Reasonably priced Care Act, which I did — which led to my demise in Congress. The core worth is combating for individuals, for well being care, for serving to them get out of this pandemic.

I’m keen to steer that get together and use the ability that I’ve to assist make sure that there are extra Democrats there to assist Joe Biden get his agenda by means of the Senate. I simply spoke to Senator Schumer a short while in the past. I talked to Joe Biden final evening. Nancy Pelosi has known as me a pair days in the past.

So these are relationships I’ve, however I additionally take significantly my job to extend their numbers so the Democratic agenda will get by means of and is there to assist the American individuals.

Have you ever determined whom your lieutenant governor will probably be? Sure or no?

[In a hushed voice, with an almost-wink] Sure.


Keep tuned.

Do you help the congestion pricing plan for New York Metropolis, and do you wish to speed up its implementation?

I’ve supported it from its inception.

I imagine it has to occur for all the explanations we all know congestion pricing works. However I additionally set to work on discovering out the rollout time. I do know they’re saying from 18 months to 16 months, however I wish to test into that.

Do you agree with Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York Metropolis mayor, that modifications ought to be thought-about for the state’s bail legislation, and in that case, what do you imagine ought to be modified?

I’m unsure the bail legislation is being applied the best way it was meant.

Judges have way more discretion to make sure that individuals meet the requirements put forth within the legislation so nobody who’s been convicted of a violent crime is ready to get out. The legislation spells out what’s presupposed to be in place for judges to judge, and I’m not 100% positive that’s what’s occurring.

So I’ve not seen proof — and I help bail reform, help it strongly, as a result of we’ve had an unjust system. Similar crime, two individuals. One’s wealthy, one’s poor. One’s going to jail, one is staying at house. I’ve stated for years how un-American that’s.

We even have a accountability to guard our residents and shield our communities, so I’m keen to take a look at that.

Governor Cuomo stated that the lawyer basic’s report was unfair and politically motivated. Do you suppose he had satisfactory due course of?

I had full confidence, from the very starting, within the lawyer basic’s report. I’ve confidence within the conclusion and the outcomes.

Do you suppose you’d beat him in a main subsequent yr?

I’ve an excellent file of profitable elections, particularly those that individuals inform me I can’t win.

You’ve spoken with a variety of nationwide leaders in current weeks, together with Hillary Clinton. What recommendation did she offer you?

“Keep robust.”

She was so gracious in providing to be there as a sounding board, discuss at any time when I needed to.

I’ll always remember, once I gained my particular election in Congress, I obtained my head kicked in.

So after that, I’m battle-scarred. Hillary has been by means of the identical. There aren’t many individuals who’ve been in these trenches. It creates a particular bond.

That’s what I talked about with Hillary — altering individuals’s photographs of ladies in government positions. And that’s what I wish to do.

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