Working with the New Governor

Legislative Column by Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River)

Earlier this week, Kathy Hochul became the 57th governor of New York and the first female to hold the position. I extend my congratulations to Gov. Hochul on assuming this historic role. With this being said, the new governor has many issues to face and questions to answer as her administration begins to govern. As she is a Buffalo native, I hope the governor understands what issues face our upstate communities and that addressing them is just as important as tackling downstate issues. I will work with the governor on a few things including expanding rural broadband, improving our infrastructure and repealing burdensome taxes, such as SALT.

In her inaugural address the governor stated that her administration would be transparent and would “restore trust” in Albany. I hope that her actions match her rhetoric. One of the first questions I have for this governor is will she release ALL health department data related to the pandemic, including a full accounting of nursing home data in accordance with the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)? Grieving families around the state are still searching for accountability on how the Cuomo administration botched nursing home policy during the height of the pandemic. Not only did Cuomo put seniors in harm’s way with his directive that sent COVID-19 positive patients back into nursing homes, but he covered up the real numbers to save himself politically. We see how well that worked out for him.

In the same breath, will Gov. Hochul leave disgraced Cuomo officials on the job such as Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker? The health commissioner was working directly with the governor on the cover-up of nursing home deaths. I believe it is in Gov. Hochul’s best interest to install a new health commissioner and restore public trust in the department. New York needs to rid itself of the stain that was Cuomo and his administration.

Gov. Hochul also announced that masks will be mandated for all students and school personnel as the school year begins. I am against the masking of our children. I also want to reiterate that I stand opposed to ALL vaccine mandates that are government imposed. I have been consistent on this issue, while encouraging folks to get vaccinated. This is a personal health decision to be made between you and your doctor.

If you have any questions on this issue please feel free to reach out to my office at or 315-493-3909.