When Manhattan residents their opinion on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation today, and the conclusion was unanimous: he had to go.
The downfall of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been stunning in it’s speed and scale – it’s taken only eight days from the Attorney General’s report for Cuomo to resign. Yet, feelings on the street in downtown Manhattan were mixed, ranging from apathy, to anger, to cautious hope. Most seemed disappointed; at who, however, was far from unanimous.
“I’m happy we’re getting a female governor, but, you know, when I went to tell my boss, ‘Cuomo resigned,’ he just said, ‘eh,’” David, 34, said. “And I think that’s how we all feel.”
Others were not so blasé. “Why did it take so long?” said Sarah, 22.
“I’m just really disappointed in this guy. I had a lot of respect for him, but there’s just a weak side to the guy, and it’s a shame,” said Keith, 61.
“I’m just surprised that his ego allowed him to resign,” said Stephanie F.
“Good riddance,” said Diana Greenfeld, 46, from Queens.
Others were not so sure of Cuomo’s guilt, or, despite the allegations, still harbored good will for him. “I wish he wasn’t resigning, he’s a good guy,” Arthur White, 41, said. “He made sure we ate.”
“Honestly, as a woman, I feel bad for the guy,” Chloe said. “I sympathize with the women, I am that woman, but I think he did a lot of good for the City.”
“Who’s Cuomo?” responded Kevin, nineteen-years-old, and a tourist from Ohio.
Overall, the mood seemed disappointed, cautiously hopeful, but a little indifferent. “I was just about to call somebody and tell them congratulations,” said Boris. “But me? I don’t really care.”
Joan Strauss, 84, says the resignation had to happen, but she thinks the reasons show a generational split.
“I’m [from] a different generation. I’m pre-’Me Too’”, said Strauss. “Some of the accusations I thought were plain BS, and silly. [But] I know guys like that who are touchy-feely and very aggressive, and it can be very unpleasant.”
Strauss says while she may have tolerated such behavior, her granddaughter and her granddaughter’s generation find it unacceptable, and that’s for the better.
Caroline, a young and recent New Yorker, told PoliticsNY her opinion of Cuomo has changed.
“Over COVID we all just thought he was fine,” said Caroline, who declined to share her last name. “We were all just confused. [Cuomo’s resignation] was the right move. You can’t sexually harass women and get away with it.”
Estella Zacharia, 20, says she’s always distrusted Cuomo and those in power in general.
“I think the investigation’s report definitely sheds light on some things that make it more concerning and make me even more glad that he left,” Zacharia said. “But as a whole, I think as soon as the rumors started, I kind of believed them. That’s my tendency when it comes to male politicians.”
Vijay Dandapani, President & CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC), said the resignation is a relief to all.
“It is clearly the right decision as the state and all its citizens need certainty in governance which was increasingly becoming difficult if not impossible In the last couple of weeks,” Dandapani said.
Russell Squire, Chair of Community Board 8 in Manhattan, expressed relief over the end of the political uncertainty and gratitude for the women who spoke out against the Governor.
“With Governor Cuomo’s resignation, our state government will be able to move forward with the process of governing. We are grateful to all of the brave women who came forward, our elected leaders and advocates who called for accountability, and to the media who pressed on,” Squire said in a statement to PoliticsNY. “No one should have to suffer sexual harassment or assault, and this resignation is an essential first step in a longer process of accountability for those who victimize others.”
Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, pointed to the future of women in leadership in New York.
“I got my start in politics helping to elect and then working for a woman Lieutenant Governor. I’m looking forward to working with Kathy Hochul,” Brewer said in a tweet. “who will become Governor of a state with women as majority leader of both chambers of the legislature, a woman serving as Chief Justice of our highest court, a woman as attorney general, a woman as Secretary of State, and our acting lieutenant governor will be a woman as well.”
Upper East Side State Sen. Rebecca Seawright gave thanks first and foremost to the brave women who came forward and told the stories of their abusive treatment within the highest executive office of our state. No amount of victim-shaming will ever diminish their courageous actions, she said.
“Governor Cuomo was right to announce his resignation today. New Yorkers will not be distracted from focusing on fighting against COVID-19 and on revitalizing the state economy. We must, however, take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the devastating findings of the Attorney General’s report on the treatment of women and abuse of state resources are never again allowed to occur in New York State,” said Seawright.
“I look forward to discussing how best to accomplish this with my constituents, Speaker Heastie, Judiciary Committee Chair Levine and Committee member colleagues. I stand in strong support of Governor-Designate Kathy Hochul. She will make history as the first woman to hold the office of governor of New York. We will work with her to advocate the best interests of the people of our state as she begins the transition process over the two weeks. The people of New York deserve nothing lesser,” the lawmaker added.
Updated at 5:10 p.m. on Aug. 10.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.