Incoming N.Y. Governor Wants Mask Mandate, Plans to Run in 2022
(Bloomberg) -- Incoming New York Governor Kathy Hochul says she is meeting with the state health commissioner to discuss again requiring masks in schools as Covid-19 cases from the contagious delta variant continue to tick up.
“I believe that there will end up being mask mandates. I just don’t have the authority to do so at this point,” she said on Thursday during an interview with the Today Show.
Hochul, who is lieutenant governor, will take over as New York’s first female governor at the end of the month, following the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo over a sex-harassment scandal. Cuomo also faces possible criminal charges and potential impeachment proceedings, which the legislature hasn’t decided whether to drop in light of his decision this week to step down. Hochul, 62, will serve the remainder of Cuomo’s term through December 2022.
Hochul, wasted no time assuring political rivals and voters that she intends to run in the 2022 governor’s race.
“I fully expect to,” she said when asked about the upcoming gubernatorial election. “I’m going to ask the voters at some point for their faith in me again.”
During her first public remarks since Cuomo said he would step down, she pledged a sharp break from the previous administration in a speech at the Albany State Capitol building on Wednesday. She vowed to dismiss staffers implicated in the damaging report by the state attorney general that found Cuomo harassed 11 woman, many of whom worked for him.
She echoed the sentiment again during the television interview Thursday.
The “very first steps will be ensuring that anyone who’s named in the report released by the Attorney General, being involved in kind of unethical behavior will no longer be part of this administration, they’re gone day one, so let’s get that very clear,” she said. “I have no tolerance for any sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior in my administration.”
Also on Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he spoke to Hochul and pledged to work together with the incoming governor after a disastrous relationship with Cuomo. The two sparred over everything from the city’s subways to the pandemic response, sometimes creating divergent directives that confused New Yorkers and blunted the Covid recovery.
“I just look forward to some normalcy,” de Blasio said in a Thursday press briefing. “What we were experiencing in Albany just wasn’t normal.”
De Blasio, who will leave office at the end of the year due to term limits, declined to say whether or not he would run for New York governor. He said he was focused right now on the city’s Covid response, which he pledged to work closely with Hochul to address.
De Blasio, who also supports mask-wearing for schoolchildren, said the city wouldn’t reconsider ending the remote-learning option for public schools and that everyone would be required to come into the classroom this September despite rising Covid cases citywide.
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