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Editor’s corner: Sudden change brings a new attitude to Empire State

File photo A smile and air of positivity is a trademark of Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is seen here last summer in Jamestown.

JAMESTOWN — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was a road warrior, especially last summer during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and reopening that took place across the nation, traveling across New York state. Today, she is in the national spotlight.

Hochul will take the reins once Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially resigns in less than two weeks. If you think western Pennsylvania has issues with Gov. Tom Wolf, you also know most of neighboring upstate and Chautauqua County were not Cuomo fans.

On Wednesday Hochul met with the media in Albany to discuss her preparation for a rapidly arriving ascent. She understands and is not overwhelmed by the challenges that remain in the midst of her transition to take the leadership of the Empire State.

“My style is to listen first, then take decisive action,” Hochul said. “So in (11) days, I will officially become the 57th governor of the state of New York.”

This is monumental.

No one could have seen this coming one year ago when Cuomo was the toast of the nation for his handling of the COVID crisis. Millions across the country were watching his daily briefings on the virus for information and reassurances.

He was a rock star — and there was no denying he loved the attention and the infatuation of power it brought. In the process, he became addicted to himself while becoming unbearable for many others.

His lieutenant governor, however, was rarely by his side during these briefings. That is because she was doing the administration’s leg work — putting in the time and plenty of miles overseeing how each region was coping with the virus.

It was last summer when Hochul visited Jamestown twice in a two-month span. Her goals on both occasions were simple but complicated by a pandemic.

At a time when the county and state were reopening, she met with numerous businesses on West Third Street in June. One month later, she did a roundtable discussion at the National Comedy Center that focused on boosting tourism at a time when people were avoiding major cities while seeking natural wonders.

With her trademark smile, everyone in her presence believes their voice is being heard. That is not how Albany usually works.

As the second in command, Hochul was the anti-Cuomo. While the current governor normally controlled the stage and setting while offering commanding edicts, she was the administration’s people person.

Now comes the real test. Hochul, who kept her distance from Cuomo, was a cheerleader for his policies. She always towed the company line.

Beginning Aug. 24, all that changes with a fresh start. It is one Albany desperately needs.

John D’Agostino is editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 723-8200, ext. 253.

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