This has been a sad few months for New Yorkers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has gone from being “America’s Governor” with a multi-million-dollar book deal as a leader during the COVID crisis to a disgraced man accused of multiple sexual misconduct allegations. Because of these allegations and a subsequent report by Attorney General Tish James, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has become the second elected New York governor in a row to resign in somewhat disgrace.
Once Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul gets sworn in, we as a state will need to find a way to heal from this latest embarrassment and begin to hold more of our elected officials accountable. It is no secret that the culture in Albany has been rife with public servants who have sworn to protect and honor the citizens of the state. However, far too many have betrayed the trust of the citizens of New York either through financial misdeeds or sexual misconduct.
Once Andrew Cuomo officially leaves office it is unclear what will be his next chapter. He has been in Albany since he was nineteen years old working with his late father and former governor Mario Cuomo. In many ways Albany is synonymous with the Cuomo name. Andrew Cuomo not only served as an advisor to his father for his three-term tenure, Andrew himself is in the latter half of his third term and was rumored to definitely plan on running for a fourth term (had it not been for the mounting accusations from his victims).
As we know, politicians have many acts and this quasi-Greek tragedy within the Cuomo family may not necessarily end with Andrew Cuomo’s resignation. Many voters have short memories when it comes to politician’s misdeeds. It is my hope that Andrew Cuomo will take some time to reflect on his behavior, the culture he promoted while the leader in Albany, and how he can regain the trust of so many New Yorkers who feel failed by someone they once admired.
It is difficult for some to detangle the leadership Cuomo displayed standing up to the former president with the behaviors so clearly laid out in AG James’ report. But detangle we must. If we are to have a new style of leadership that is not rooted in fear-based governance, we must demand that our elected leaders practice a type of politics that brings out the best in all who choose public service as their calling. We cannot have an entire generation disgusted by politics due to bad behaviors of people who are accustomed to “the way things have always been.”
As we move forward, I am eagerly looking forward to seeing who Kathy Hochul will choose as her lieutenant governor and in her cabinet. Until then, we begin to rebuild trust.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also the What’s in It for Us podcast.