HAMBURG, N.Y. — Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul got her first taste of public speaking at the Erie County Fair when she was a young girl, and she returned to her roots Sunday and took questions from reporters days ahead of her transition to governor.
"It was here that I actually had to present myself to an audience at 10 years old, and I started the journey, unexpected journey, but one where I developed some confidence as a young girl," said Hochul.
Hochul will replace Governor Andrew Cuomo when he officially steps down on August 24. Hochul, a 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress, will become the state’s 57th governor and the first woman to hold the post.
2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten asked Hochul what it means to the region to have a governor from Western New York and what her specific priorities will be for the area.
"I do want to send a message to Western New Yorkers: I know this community. I love this community, and I'll fight for this community," said Hochul. "That comes down to making sure we continue the great economic development progress, that we don't let up on all of those initiatives to bring back communities like the East Side of Buffalo."
She went on to say there are still many problems that need to be addressed.
"There are problems with poverty. There are problems with people who need affordable housing. We need to get rental assistance out. This is not just Western New York. This is statewide," said Hochul.
The Lt. Governor also went on to talk about the Buffalo Bills.
"I also know that priorities are important, priorities like the Buffalo Bills, and it's very, very important to me that we ensure that the Buffalo Bills maintain their home here in Western New York," said Hochul. "I am excited about the opportunity to make sure we structure a deal that's good for the taxpayers as well as make sure the Bills stay here."
When asked about choosing her cabinet and who will serve with her in Albany, Hochul said she is "consulting outside experts on many issues," but added that continuity is important during this time of transition.
"We are in a crisis situation. However, I am going to be signing an executive order to keep people in place for 45 days and continue to evaluate during that time."
She reiterated that she will not keep anyone charged with unethical behavior in connection with the Governor Cuomo sexual harassment/abuse scandal or listed in the report.
"That's job number one, to clean house of people mentioned in that report in a negative way. A number of people have left already, and I am going to continue working with the team I have as Lieutenant Governor but taking advantage of the deep relationships I have with many outstanding commissioners and public servants who are part of the administration," said Hochul.
Hochul also talked about childcare and masks in schools.
"I am also looking forward to making sure our schools are safe. Not just Western New York but all across the state of New York, and I believe that's going to call for mandatory masks at minimum," said Hochul, when talking about some other priorities in the near future.
Hochul had this to say when asked whether she thinks Cuomo impeachment probe findings should be made public, especially given public outcry and bipartisan calls for it to happen:
"I assure you that under my administration there will not be a cloud over Albany. I support Speaker Heastie's decision. I am deferential to the leadership of the co-equal bodies. I don't have a higher position than them. What he decides to do with respect to the investigation, I have the utmost respect for. That does not mean that there are not other investigations ongoing. I ensure that my administration provides all the information that's requested in furtherance of those."