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Cuomo announces senior staff appointments

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 5:30 p.m.

Last week, New York State Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo named appointments to his senior staff, beginning a slow transition to Albany.

According to Cuomo's spokesperson, Steven Cohen will serve as secretary to the governor; Mylan Denerstein will serve as counsel to the governor; Yrthya Dinzey-Flores will serve as chief diversity officer; Judge Leslie Leach will serve as appointments secretary; Howard Glaser will serve as director of state operations and senior policy advisor to the governor; Jeremy Creelan will serve as special counselor for public integrity and ethics reform; Benjamin Lawsky will serve as chief of staff; and Adam Cohen will serve as special policy advisor.

Cuomo expressed pride with his appointees.

"I am privileged to welcome such a diverse group of extraordinary talent to help our administration take on the challenge of restoring our state government and making it work for the people once again," said Cuomo in a released statement.

The AmNews spoke with former comptroller and member of Cuomo's transition team H. Carl McCall to get his take on the appointees. When asked if there were other people on the short list for the aforementioned positions, he couldn't provide names, but he was happy with whom Cuomo picked.

"One of the key elements is that we have to maintain confidentiality," said McCall. "We can't talk about people who didn't get jobs. There haven't been any leaks and it wouldn't be fair to people. All I can say is that we're pleased with the people who have been appointed so far. The governor is committed to diversity and we hope the commitment is maintained throughout the whole process."

While each appointee has something different to bring to the table, McCall decided against talking about them separately and wanted to comment on them as a group.

"I'd rather not talk about individuals," said McCall. "Overall, they are a group of people who have experience in government and the private sector, and are the type of people we want to see in New York State. This is just the beginning. A lot of other people have applied and I hope they will all be of the high quality."

Republicans are poised to take over the state Senate in January, and there are some fears about how they'll work with Cuomo. Some conservatives are distrusting of Cuomo and some liberals, particularly liberals of color, have openly expressed a fear of a conservative ruler despite Cuomo's party affiliation. McCall wanted to let the people know that Cuomo's senior staff appointments will work with Cuomo and the Senate to ensure cooperation amongst the parties to push New York in a positive direction.

"I hope so because that's very important," stated McCall. "Some of these people will have to be approved by the state Senate, which will be controlled by Republicans. I hope that there's real bipartisanship, and that Republicans are willing to work with Democrats on serious issues that need to be addressed in Albany."