As Kathy Hochul prepares to become the next governor of New York, advocates in Albany want her to embrace an agenda that pointedly turns on the page on Andrew Cuomo.
The proposals go to the heart of problems that have plagued Albany for decades, even before Cuomo took office 10 years ago: Secrecy and sexual harassment. Cumulatively, it's known as the NYBOLD Agenda by advocacy organizations that are urging Hochul to take up the measures.
There are high hopes among advocates the new Hochul administration will be different from the Cuomo era. Anti-sexual harassment advocate Erica Vladimer called on Hochul to support measures aimed at helping survivors and victims.
"Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul needs to show institutional courage and what that means is taking meaningful action, not just using words like 'I stand with survivors,'" said Vladimer, a member of the Sexual Harassment Working Group, composed of survivors and victims of sexual harassment who have worked in and around state government.
Cuomo is not the only elected official in New York state government to leave office following a sexual harassment scandal. But advocates want Hochul to take more action on the issue, including the passage of a law that makes it easier for suvivors and victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits.
"If I were on the incoming governor's team, I would be reaching out or responding to any requests to meet with advocates, especially with groups of people who have lived experiences," Vladimer said.
Common Cause's Susan Lerner hopes Hochul will support an overhaul of ethics policing and transparency in Albany.
"I think we're going to see a new day on the second floor and we're very much looking forward to working with soon to be Governor Hochul to have her administration be successful," Lerner said.
But already there are questions being raised about Hochul's appointees. Her incoming top aide Karen Keogh is married to a partner at one of Albany's largest lobbying firms, Bolton St. John's.
Lerner urged Hochul to address the issue early on.
"I believe these are all manageable with openess and complete transparency," Lerner said. "There needs to be safeguards in place that are obvious and disclosed."
Hochul's office in a statement on Monday said proper safeguards were being put in place.
“Recusals will be put in place by midnight to ensure that any New York State business relating to the Secretary’s spouse will be delegated in order to prevent any appearance of conflicts of interest," said Cuomo spokeswoman Haley Viccaro.