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At Nassau Democratic Party dinner, Hochul talks of opportunity amid the turmoil

Gov. Kathy Hochul, speaking above in August at

Gov. Kathy Hochul, speaking above in August at a Harlem event, addressed the Nassau County Democratic Party dinner in Westbury on Thursday night.   Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

Gov. Kathy Hochul took office amid her predecessor's scandals, a pandemic and natural disasters, but "I don't call these challenges," she told the audience at a Nassau County Democratic Party dinner Thursday night.

"These are opportunities for me to work together with local officials, mayors and supervisors and county executives," Hochul said in an address to about 1,000 attendees at the annual fall dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

Hochul, who among her first jobs in politics was a county clerk in Erie County, said that sort of experience will be crucial as she moves about New York State, meeting municipal leaders and getting to know them and their problems.

"I understand where all the real decisions are made and I’m going to continue empowering our local governments to continue doing what they do best," Hochul said. "But I will not have a heavy-handed approach. … I will liberate everybody to do what you do best and that is represent the people."

Hochul’s visit to the country club came weeks before Nassau residents cast their ballots for several races, including district attorney and county executive. On Oct. 4, Nassau County Democratic chair Jay Jacobs and Richard Schaffer, Suffolk County Democratic chair, both endorsed Hochul for reelection in 2022.

Jacobs, who introduced Hochul and offered county Democrats’ support, called her "a friend" since her days as a county clerk.

"In Kathy Hochul, you have somebody that has a heart, listens to people, wants to get it right, wants to make government work for the good of everybody in the state and is tireless and is decent with integrity and she is exactly who we need in these days as our New York state governor," Jacobs said.

Hochul, in August, replaced Andrew M. Cuomo, who resigned as the 56th governor, following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and the threat of becoming the first governor impeached since 1913.

Since taking office, Hochul has had to manage the response to the remnants of Hurricane Ida, a power outage that left hundreds of New York City subway riders stranded, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who addressed the dinner after Hochul, said she spoke with the new governor often at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

"With that focus on regular middle-class Nassau County families, our small businesses, tells me where her heart is and who she is," said Curran. "I’m incredibly grateful for the partnership."

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