(CMC) — Caribbean American legislators in New York have welcomed the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying it was the right thing to do.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the governor’s decision to resign, over a looming sexual harassment scandal, confirmed that what “many of us have known for a long time — that Andrew Cuomo was the wrong governor for New York.
Read: New York Gov Andrew Cuomo resigning over sexual harassment
“The last several months have plainly revealed that to the world, as brave women who endured the governor’s abuse have spoken out, and as his administration has attempted to attack and ignore them,” Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“And while I hope that today gives the survivors of his conduct some semblance of peace and measure of justice, it is not a day of triumph and celebration, even the words of his resignation statement inflicted pain on survivors across the state.
“Today, I am reflecting on the totality of the harm done, the systems that enable it, and the work ahead to dismantle those systems. Andrew Cuomo has only ever been interested in his own interests,” Williams said.
“As a result of his forced resignation, state government can now work solely for the people of New York. Resignation does not undo the harm he inflicted on the women who came forward, nor does it reduce the damage that his abusive governance has long wrought, but it creates an opportunity to begin to recover.”
Williams said while he and New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who will succeed Cuomo, have disagreed in the past about the direction of the state and its leadership, at the same time, in assuming the role, “we need her to stabilise New York in a perilous moment and against an incessant volley of crises, and I — as we all should be — am ready to work with her to recover from this pandemic and rebuild New York.
“I hope that, over the coming months, she will be able to begin to address the toxic culture created by Governor Cuomo and those around him who empowered and enabled him, and all the damage the administration has wrought,” the public advocate said.
In announcing his resignation on Tuesday, amid heightened calls for him to step down and an impending impeachment hearing in the New York State Assembly, Cuomo said his resignation would be effective in 14 days.
The announcement came after a scathing report last week from New York State Attorney General Letitia James that found that the governor had sexually harassed 11 women.
“This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation,” said Cuomo in his televised resignation.
New York State Senator Zellnor Y Myrie, who represents the 20th Senate District in Central Brooklyn, noted that New York faces “significant challenges at this moment”.
“Rising COVID cases, economic uncertainty facing renters and homeowners, and an epidemic of gun violence among many others. These challenges demand focused, steady leadership that isn’t distracted by personal grievances or drawn-out litigation,” said Myrie, whose grand-mother hailed from Jamaica.
He told CMC, “The governor’s decision to step down means that we can get back to the urgent business of strengthening our state and its people.”
“I am grateful to the women who risked their careers and reputations to come forward and share their experiences. We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude, and we can show that gratitude by ensuring our workplaces are safe and free from harassment, abuse and retaliation.
“I look forward to working with incoming Governor Hochul to rebuild the trust and accountability New Yorkers should expect from their government, and to working together to address the challenges we face to build a better, brighter future,” Myrie said.
Brooklyn Democratic Party chair, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, said “Cuomo has done the right thing”.
“His resignation was in the interest of the people of this state,” said the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“In this disquieting time, there is some relief in seeing repercussions for Cuomo’s shameful conduct. I called and congratulated Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who will be the first woman to hold the state’s highest position, when she steps up as governor,” added Bichotte Hermelyn.
“In Brooklyn, Hochul is no stranger to us on a number of initiatives, such as Vital Brooklyn, and she will continue to be welcomed. It is time for us to work together with her to deliver reform and accountability as we help the state recover.”
New York State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, the daughter of Aruban and St Martin immigrants, commended James for “hearing the women who came forward to share their painful stories and for conducting a thorough investigation that left no doubt of the extent of Governor Cuomo’s actions and misconduct”.
“Governor Cuomo’s resignation was the right decision, as it has become clear that he cannot continue leading New York State effectively,” said Richardson, who represents the 43rd Assembly District in Central Brooklyn.
“New Yorkers deserve a leader who is focused on solving the problems we are facing. I am confident that incoming Governor Kathy Hochul has the ability to lead the state through this crisis, and I look forward to working with her and moving New York State forward,” added the chair of the New York State Assembly Legislative Commission on Government Administration.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who traces his roots to Jamaica, thanked “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,” he said. “You are the true heroes of New York State, and Queens continues to support you as you move toward your next steps.”
“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. (It) 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.”
Speaker of New York State Assembly, Carl Heastie, whose grandfather hailed from the Bahamas, said “this has been a tragic chapter in our state’s history” adding that Governor Cuomo’s resignation “is the right decision”.
“The brave women who stepped forward were heard. Everyone deserves to work in a harassment free environment. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Hochul, and I look forward to working with her,” Heastie added.