Cuomo to Hochul Op Ed



With Governor Andrew Cuomo resigning his position due to numerous scandals, the state faces challenging times complicated by a transition in leadership in its Executive Office.  While the political class in Albany ponders what comes next, educators too wonder what the Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul to Governor means for students across the state.

Who is Kathy Hochul?  By most counts, at least on a personal level, Governor Hochul will bring a fresh approach to the office.  While Governor Cuomo seemed to relish political battle, Kathy Hochul has a history of collaboration and consensus building.  Whether that results in sound policies remains to be seen, but at least there is hope for a more collegial process that is less about political drama and more about positive outcomes.

Where Are Her Political Leanings?  Governor Hochul hails from Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo in the far western reaches of New York.  While that region is among the most conservative in the state, as Lt. Governor she has developed a reputation as a progressive-leaning moderate, actively supporting gay rights, progressive family policies and women’s rights.  While no one will mistake her for AOC, she is likely to be more progressive than many are speculating, especially as she tries to attract downstate progressive voters.

How Will She Handle COVID?  Early signs are that Governor Hochul will be aggressive in combatting Hochul, as you would expect from someone who values science, has raised two children, and has seen firsthand the ravages the disease has wrought on New York over the past 18 months.  She has already indicated her intention to mandate masks in all public schools, a policy that might upset some but that is sure to improve the safety of our schools and the health of our students.

Where Does she Stand on Education Issues?  Governor Hochul has a limited track record in the education world, but she has given indications of openness on elements of the education reform agenda, including charter schools.  And given that she must run for election next year—and the federal government has sent billions to New York to help deal with the fallout from COVID—no doubt her budget will propose healthy funding for our schools as she looks to fulfill the promises made in the 2021-22 budget and enhance her prospects for election next November.

What are Her Prospects in 2022?  New York has not elected a true Upstater (sorry Governor Pataki, but Peekskill doesn’t qualify) in 100 years.  While some will claim she’s an accidental Governor, still she will have over a year of incumbency to make her case to New York Democrats.  It’s too early to tell who will run against her, but no doubt someone will, including, perhaps, Attorney General Tish James.  Regardless of her opponents, it will be a challenge for an Upstater, no matter how popular they are, to win a statewide Democratic primary.  However, Kathy Hochul has a history of winning elections that pundits thought she couldn’t win, so we’d all be wise to avoid making strong predictions.

As an educator, I only hope that she stays true to what got her here: forthright candor, honesty, compassion for those in need, and a commitment to excellence.  Those are qualities that teachers try to instill in all their students, as living up to those standards brings positive results.

Best of luck Governor Hochul.  We’re all pulling for you.


by Melissa Melkonian

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