About Roosevelt Island

Who Is Kathy Hochul and What Is She Doing On Roosevelt Island?

Updated 3 years ago David Stone
Rebecca Seawright, Sally Minard, Gale A. Brewer and Lt. Gov. Hochul
Rebecca Seawright, Sally Minard, Gale A. Brewer and Lt. Gov. Hochul
Photos Courtesy: Flickr

"This is an incredible asset we have, right in the heart of downtown New York City," said New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, while touring FDR Four Freedoms Park. "This island is spectacular."

You can't be blamed if Kathy Hochul is not yet a household name in your neighborhood. Standing behind the State's most powerful politician doesn't give you much time in the limelight, but wherever she has worked in the past, Hochul has made her mark, generating national headlines in 2011 by winning an election for Western New York's 26th Congressional District, a seat Republicans had held for four decades.

And she's not unfamiliar with the challenge of asserting herself in the presence of well-known political figures. She started her career as an aide to a giant, the highly respected and accomplished New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan.

She is New York State's 77th Lieutenant Governor, having taken office in January, 2015.

On Wednesday, Hochul focused her attention on Roosevelt Island while FDR Four Freedoms Park President/CEO Sally Minard escorted her, State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer on a tour.

For Minard, getting this group rounded up could not have been easy. The night before, she'd supervised Roosevelt Island's first Manhattanhenge event, welcoming hundreds of visitors to the park, and if you do the math, it seems like she barely had time for her head to hit the pillow before she was back up again, rushing to greet the State's highest ranking female executive.

"We were thrilled to have Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and  Acting President/CEO/General Counsel of RIOC Susan Rosenthal visit Four Freedoms Park this morning for a tour," Minard notes.

She added that, prior to the walk through, "They also had the opportunity to meet with interns from the Conservancy's Youth Documentarian Program who are engaged in documentary film training and hands-on production to capture the stories of older Americans who lived through the FDR Administration."

With a variety of family-oriented programs, Four Freedoms has worked to integrate itself into the local community while fulfilling its mission as a memorial to both FDR and the ideals he dramatically presented to the world at the height of its greatest modern crisis. It's a difficult balancing act.

Lieutenant Governor Hochul noted the park's importance as an attraction for tourists before taking a more serious turn.

"But also, at this particular time in our country," she began, "I think it’s important that we reflect on a time when we had a lot of challenges in America, a time when we were coming out of the Depression, we were entering World War II. And the leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt really brought this country together and that’s the kind of leadership I think our country is looking for.

"Just to come here today, promote this island, how wonderful it is, but also a statement of our priorities as Americans," Hochul added.

Assembly Member Seawright took a practical view of Hochul's visit.

"She saw first-hand the need for workforce development, infrastructure support as economic activity increases on the island," said Seawright, also noting, "As we walked by the iconic statue by Jo Davidson that stands in the spirit of the four freedoms, we discussed the great legacy of Roosevelt Island and the importance of our community to the city and the state."

Hochul also set aside time to visit the active construction site for Cornell NYC Tech.

"It’s a game changer, I can’t tell you how many tech businesses I visited over the last year since I was at the groundbreaking, they’re just waiting for the graduates to come out of Cornell Tech, I hear it everywhere," she said.

The campus ribbon cutting is expected to take place next year.

The Lieutenant Governor's visit once again drew strong attention to the changing face of Roosevelt Island. Once a model community, envisioned as the "City of Tomorrow," its recent evolution expands that view. A world class memorial, the only one of its kind, to the only American president to be elected four times, and an equally prestigious and unique technology engine of progress are lifting Roosevelt Island to international prominence.

Both institutions, happily, are committed to the community through programs and investment. 


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