By Lexi Masarweh | Staff Writer
Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York on Aug. 24 after Andrew Cuomo resigned from office. The Buffalo, N.Y., native was sworn into office at the New York State Capitol in a ceremony overseen by chief judge Janet DiFiore.
This is a historic moment for New York, as most of New York’s state government is now run by powerful women. El Paso junior and political science major Rachel Olivarez said she sees this as an exciting time for women everywhere.
“Women have been involved in politics for many years now; however, it is still more common that positions such as governor are filled by a male,” Olivarez said. “As a young woman who wants to go into politics in the future, seeing a woman rise up and be in a position of power is so inspiring.”
Baylor political science professor Dr. Patrick Flavin said there have been many studies showing that when women serve in office, it has a role model effect on younger women, encouraging them to be political leaders themselves.
“[Younger women] are more likely to be interested in politics, more likely to run for office themselves one day,” Flavin said. “So, it is important not only for those serving in office now but for young women who may run for office in the future as well.”
Olivarez said she thinks this is just a starting point for the kind of gender diversity she would like to see in government.
“I feel that it is important to continue to have more women involved in politics,” Olivarez said. “There are only eight other states with female governors. I feel like that number should be much higher because the choices that our leaders make for us do influence our lives, and many of those decisions are made by men.”
As far as plans for her time in office, Hochul is going to start making big decisions for the state, including some related to COVID-19. She wants to make masks mandatory for students — something Andrew Cuomo said he did not have the authority to do.
COVID-19 is not the only issue Hochul will face. Unemployment is still an issue, and the rate is high due to the pandemic.
Hochul is working to build a new administration and does not want to run New York the way Andrew Cuomo did. She has planned appointments, including Karen Persichilli Keogh as secretary to the governor and Elizabeth Fine as chief legal counselor.
“I think she will bring some political stability to New York that’s been lacking for the last several months as Gov. Cuomo was being investigated,” Flavin said.
Olivarez said she is anxious to see the good Hochul does while in office.
“Due to Hochul’s deeply-rooted political connections from her time served in Congress, I am eager to see how she makes an impact and the mark she will leave on New York,” Olivarez said.