ALBANY — And just like that, shattered were the remains of a 245-year glass ceiling.
Democrats Kathy Hochul and Antonio Delgado were sworn in Sunday, respectively, as New York’s first elected-female governor and first elected-lieutenant governor of Latino heritage.
“I’m gonna be here for a few minutes because it took us a long time to get here,” Hochul told a crowd at her Albany inauguration.
She was sworn in on a family bible, as well as a Dutch bible passed down from former Gov. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s great-grandfather. Hochul referenced George Clinton, New York’s first post-colonial governor while highlighting the historic moment.
“So we always reflect on history,” said Hochul. “But when George Clinton was sworn in as governor, I can tell you right now not a soul in that place [ever] dreamed that a woman would take that same oath in the state.”
Hochul long served as lieutenant governor, a position placing her a heartbeat away from inheriting the Executive Mansion. She took power proceeding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sex scandal-ridden exit in 2021, and held onto the title after a contentious gubernatorial challenge from Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin from Long Island last year.
“I know every corner of this state,” said the governor, in a reference to her 2015 to 2021 tenure as lieutenant governor. “New Yorkers are tough. They’re undeterred. They’re unafraid. We’re also innovators and creators, the optimists and realists, dreamers and doers, but above all, we are united.”
In her speech, Hochul pledged to defend reproductive rights, address tenants’ rights, deter hate crimes, take further action against climate change and fight to curb depopulation.
She promised to delve further into details during her State of the State address later this month.
Like her predecessor, Hochul has faced points of inner-party tension, most recently including her judicial nomination of union-embattled Hector LaSalle. Some of her positions — especially gun control — have aligned closer to the Democratic base since her days representing Western New York’s conservative-leaning 26th Congressional District a decade ago.
Hochul, a Buffalonian, is also the first governor elected outside of the New York City metro area since Republican Nathan L. Miller of Cortland County won the position in 1920.
Delgado carries Capital Region roots. He spoke in front of a backdrop showing Jay Street in his hometown of Schenectady.
“I’m so fortunate,” Delgado told the crowd. “I said, I already talked about being grateful and I really am looking out at all of you today.”
The once-Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School basketball star became a Rhodes Scholar, pursued a career in hip-hop and later landed a job as an international law attorney for Washington, D.C.-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which is among the 50 highest-grossing law firm in the world according to legal news organization ALM’s 2022 Global 200.
Delgado, now a Rhinebeck resident, became the state’s first person of color elected to Congress after unseating one-term incumbent U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, in 2018. Compared to other Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, GovTrack, between 2019 and 2021, ranked Delgado 18th in right-leaning votes and sixth in bipartisan co-sponsorship.
“Folks appreciated that I showed up to demonstrate that I actually cared enough to show up and listen, but that’s only half the battle,” Delgado said. The next step, he said, is “what you do with the information to better the lives of people.”
Delgado and Hochul were joined at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center by state Attorney General Letitia James. She was sworn in on the bible of her late mother, by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who underscored her fights against opioid manufacturers, the Trump Organization and NRA.
In a polarizing year in state politics, the 64-year-old Democrat easily captured another term as New York’s highest-ranking law enforcement official by handily defeating Republican Michael Henry in November.
James, who once ran on a three-way ticket with Cuomo and Hochul in 2018, announced a run for governor in October of 2021. Given her role overseeing the scathing sexual misconduct report, which further pressured Cuomo to resign, critics derided the move as inappropriate.
The attorney general bowed out of the race less than two months later. Hochul handily defeated New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represent Long Island and Queens, in the Democratic primary.
James faced a slew of contenders for her seat, all of which bowed out before the primary. Meanwhile, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, once again, sailed through the pre-general election process challenge-free.
DiNapoli was also sworn in for a fourth time by state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. During his speech, DiNapoli pledged to protect state pensions and invest in companies committed to environmental sustainability, LGBTQ+ rights, labor protections, and diversity.
“The comptroller’s office has a unique and important role to play as we move New York forward,” DiNapoli said. “We will ensure the smooth functioning of the state operations under our purview with integrity and without drama.”
The financial watchdog has been in office under four different governors, the longest-serving elected executive administrator in the room and second-longest serving comptroller in state history.
“At my inauguration after the 2018 election, I quoted the noted British philosopher Ringo Starr, who said ‘I get by with a little help from my friends,’” DiNapoli said. “And that still holds.”
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-527-7659 or [email protected] Also follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.