Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul: Becoming governor 'not expected' but 'I am prepared'

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul — who in less than two weeks will become the first woman to be New York's chief executive — briefly addressed the public and then took a few questions from members of the media on Wednesday afternoon, a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he will be resigning from office.

Hochul spoke from the Capitol in Albany.

"While it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared," Hochul said of taking over as governor in 13 days.

After initially resisting calls to resign, Cuomo said he will step down as pressure mounted following the release of a report from Attorney General Letitia James. Her office conducted an investigation into claims that Cuomo sexually harassed several current and former state employees, many of whom were young women.

Hochul, who said it is "no secret" that she and Cuomo are "not close," said she wasn't aware of the governor's alleged behavior until several women came forward with their stories. She said she plans to clean house and promised her administration would be "transparent."

"There will be turnover.  There will be turnover," Hochul said, signaling big staff changes at the state capitol.

"No one who is named doing anything unethical in the report will remain in my administration," she said.

Responding to a question about the reports of a "toxic" culture in the administration, Hochul said she would work to change that. 

"I've been traveling the state and do not spend much time in [Cuomo's] presence or the presence of many in the state Capitol," Hochul said. "At the end of my term, whenever it ends, nobody will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment."

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Minutes after Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he would step aside amid a sexual harassment scandal, Hochul issued a statement saying she agreed with his decision. 

"It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers," Hochul said in the statement. "As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State's 57th Governor."

Hochul, 62, is a former corporate lawyer, Capitol Hill aide, town council member, county clerk, and congresswoman. She joined Cuomo's reelection ticket in 2014 and was sworn in as lieutenant governor on Jan. 1, 2015.

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