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Top state lawmakers seeing a culture change in Albany

Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Jessica Cain
Andrea Stewart-Cousins answers questions at the New York State Fair

Just days after Gov. Kathy Hochul took over the state’s top job, top lawmakers said they’re already seeing a culture change in Albany.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said if there’s one thing she’s used to in Albany, it’s change. Since she started her senate career in 2007, she has seen the “three men in a room” culture officially end. Now, between Stewart-Cousins and new Gov. Kathy Hochul, women are two of the state’s top decision makers.

"It's important that we progress,” said Stewart-Cousins. “It's important that we evolve. It's important that people see themselves reflected in powerful places."

Stewart-Cousins said going forward, she and Hochul have many of the same priorities. High on the list is containing the spread of COVID-19 and getting students back to school in the safest way possible. Another big priority is the economy and getting state and federal dollars to the people who need them for programs like rent relief.

She said to take on these large issues, state government will need a lot of different viewpoints.

"This is a big state, and we are very, very pleased,” said Stewart-Cousins. “I'm delighted and thrilled that my conference encompasses such diversity, geographic diversity, so many different voices."

She said the state’s top lawmakers are also working to improve transparency in the wake of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

"I am used to transition,” said Stewart-Cousins. “I have worked through whatever machination there is to be worked through in state government. I expect nothing but from my members, the best in public service."