One week after Queens officials called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign following the results of an independent investigation from New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s office which found that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women in violation of New York state law, the governor announced on Tuesday, Aug. 10, that he would resign in 14 days.
When Cuomo officially steps down on Aug. 24, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over as governor, becoming the first woman to hold the office.
“This is about politics and our political system is too often driven by political extremes,” Cuomo said in a his Aug. 10 televised speech. “This situation by its current trajectory will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what we’re going to have. It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today. It really needs to perform. It’s a matter of life and death, government operations, and wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that.”
Following his resignation, Queens officials are already looking to move forward.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards is “confident” New York can “get back to work” following news of Cuomo’s resignation.
“Thank you to all the survivors who came forward. It was not an easy decision to make, but your decision transformed New York’s history for the better. You are the true heroes of New York state, and Queens continues to support you as you move toward your next steps,” Richards said. “I thank Attorney General Letitia James and her team for conducting a thorough, fair investigation and for giving survivors a platform to speak their truth. Today is a sad day for New York, but I am confident we can get back to work. I am ready to collaborate with our state’s first female governor, Kathy Hochul.”
Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas, one of the lawmakers who has called for Cuomo’s resignation and impeachment for months, said she looks forward to working with Hochul.
“Thank you to all the survivors who have come forward to tell their stories,” González-Rojas tweeted. “This is what New York needs. I’m ready to work with incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul to ensure we move our state forward, enact real reform and address the urgent needs of New Yorkers.”
Thank you to all of the survivors who have come forward to tell their stories. This is what NY needs.
— Jessica González-Rojas (@votejgr) August 10, 2021
Hochul herself said she agrees with Cuomo’s decision to step down and is ready to take the reigns.
“It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul tweeted. “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.
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.
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.
— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) August 10, 2021
After the attorney general’s report came out on Aug. 3, Cuomo denied any wrongdoing, saying it was a biased and inaccurate portrayal.
“It’s not who I am, and it’s not who I’ve ever been,” Cuomo said in a video statement. “The facts are much different than has been portrayed. I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
Eleven women accused Cuomo of similar stories of sexual harassment, which was then confirmed by James’ report. As a result, the Assembly Judiciary Committee announced yesterday they would proceed with their own investigation into misconduct and abuses of power.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Cuomo’s resignation was long overdue.
“Make no mistake, this is the result of survivors bravely telling their stories,” de Blasio said. “It was past time for Andrew Cuomo to resign and it’s for the good of all New York.”
Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams took to Twitter to say he looks forward to working with Hochul.
“As we guide our city through these challenging times and do the hard work of leading a safe, equitable recovery for NYC,” Adams said.
This is the right decision and is in the best interest of all New Yorkers.
I stand ready to work with incoming Governor @KathyHochul as we guide our City through these challenging times and do the hard work of leading a safe, equitable recovery for NYC.
— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) August 10, 2021
Other Queens officials, including state Senator Joseph Addabbo, said that Cuomo made the right decision in stepping down from his position.
“Now for the sake of the 19 million people of this state, we must come together as New Yorkers and continue to move forward in improving the lives of our residents and maintain government services,” Addabbo said. “There is still work to be done, and we will rise to this occasion as we always do in the face of challenging times. With enthusiasm, I look forward to working with Hochul and her administration.”
Arlenis Morel, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said sexual harassment and the abuse of power has no place in our government.
“Cuomo has failed repeatedly on both of these counts,” Morel said. “We have demanded Cuomo’s resignation for many months. It is a shame that it took so many brave survivors coming forward about his abusive behavior before he finally stepped down, but we continue to applaud their bravery and are relieved that the day has finally come.”
Make the Road New York is an advocacy organization building up immigrant and working-class communities through education and policy initiatives.
“We call on the Assembly to continue its impeachment proceedings to ensure full accountability — and that Cuomo can never run for public office again,” Morel said.
Cuomo was formerly praised for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis until the attorney general’s office released a report in January detailing the misleading data from the governor’s office relating to the nursing home deaths in the state.
It didn’t end there, as Cuomo also faced scrutiny for allegedly prioritizing COVID tests for his family and using state resources to publish his book. The Assembly Judiciary Committee is also investigating these allegations.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer appeared shocked at Cuomo’s announcement.
“I did not think he would ever utter these words,” Van Bramer said on Twitter.
Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani also kept his comments brief, tweeting, “14 days is too long.”
Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said today is a sad day for New York, but one that was ultimately necessary.
“The governor’s resignation is an important step in the process of ensuring accountability and acknowledging the harm done by his behavior,” Gianaris said. “I thank the women who came forward with such courage to have their voices heard and help make New York a safer, fairer place.”
Congressman Tom Suozzi released a statement saying that he thinks Cuomo did the right thing.
“There is no doubt that Cuomo has accomplished much for our state, from the property tax cap to rebuilding our infrastructure, to instituting a $15 minimum wage and battling COVID,” Suozzi said in a statement. “It is imperative that our next governor continue the positive achievements of the Cuomo administration and help once again make New York the Empire State.”
Other local lawmakers were blunt about Cuomo’s clear lack of ability to hold office now or in the future. Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said in a statement that New Yorkers deserve better than Cuomo.
“It has been abundantly clear that Cuomo is unfit to hold the position, and his resignation will allow us to finally move forward,” Rozic said. “It is my hope that investigations into his conduct continue and that his many victims receive the justice and peace of mind they deserve.”
State Senator Jessica Ramos felt similarly, saying the threat of impeachment was too much for Cuomo to handle.
“New Yorkers deserve better than a man who has played politics with our lives for a decade and couldn’t see beyond his ego,” said Ramos on Twitter. “I look forward to working with Hochul as she becomes our first female governor.”
Councilman Robert Holden also said that Cuomo isn’t doing what’s best for New York, but instead trying to avoid the impeachment process.
“Cuomo’s resignation is motivated by the inevitability of impeachment, not by what’s best for New York,” Holden said. “He must still be held accountable and his alleged victims, including victims of sexual harassment and of his deadly nursing home policies and their families, deserve justice.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng said she called on Cuomo to resign months ago and now looks forward to working with Hochul.