SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says Lieutenant Kathy Hochul taking over as New York’s governor in 12 days is “a silver lining in a very difficult situation.”
“I think she’s going to serve this state well,” Walsh told NewsChannel 9 on Thursday.
Walsh, along with local leaders around the state know Hochul just as well, if not better, than Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul, a Buffalo-area native and a 1980 graduate of Syracuse University, has made regular visits to Central New York in her role of lieutenant governor.
Walsh and Ononadga County Executive Ryan McMahon agree that Hochul’s experience as a town board member and Erie County Clerk gives her more appreciation for the role of local governments.
McMahon told NewsChannel 9, “The lieutenant governor was a control room leader for Western New York, so when it comes to the pressing issue of COVID response and recovery, she knows who did all the work. It was your local governments. I think we’re going to have a good, fresh perspective there. More of a bottom-up approach than what we’ve been dealing with for the last 10-11 years.”
McMahon reminds people he knows what it’s like to be next-in-line, suddenly pushed into the top job. He had a 40-day transition from Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, whereas Hochul has two weeks as decided by Cuomo.
Onondaga County has already formally reached out to the incoming governor so McMahon can brief her on what he says are important pending projects.
“We don’t want to loose any opportunities because there’s a perception that the state is dysfunctional right now,” said McMahon. “The lieutenant governor is ready to go.”
In terms of projects they’d like to reengage with Governor Kathy Hochul, McMahon mentions economic development. Walsh names the partnership between the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County and New York State to build a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) school in the old Central Tech building in Downtown Syracuse.
Both McMahon and Walsh mentioned the I-81 project, which is in final planning stages by the State Department of Transportation.
McMahon said, “I don’t think they’re going to change course with the new governor, but we do have some concerns with some of the plan. We have some mitigation ideas.”
“I met with the State DOT commissioner yesterday and we reiterated our collective desire to move that project forward,” said Mayor Walsh. “They feel with Lieutenant Governor Hochul in place, that’s exactly what will happen.”
Walsh calls Hochul a friend to Syracuse.
Hochul will become the 57th governor of New York State on August 24, when Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation takes effect.