Gov. Kathy Hochul is hiring a new director of Italian-American Affairs after facing a firestorm of criticism over axing the former liaison to the state’s largest ethnic community without consulting community leaders.
“Governor Hochul has committed to finding the best possible team to lead the state forward, and we have been working to fill the role of Director of Italian American Affairs as part of our constituency team’s efforts to engage with New York’s diverse communities,” Hochul spokesman Avi Small said Tuesday night.
“Governor Hochul was proud to march in the Columbus Day Parade and will continue to be a strong supporter of the Italian American community throughout her administration.”
Hochul is expected to announce the new director shortly after her consulting with Italian-American civic leaders.
Italian-American activists slammed Hochul for blindsiding them after recently firing director Dolores Alfieri, appointed the Italian-American liaison in 2017 by ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Even Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who is inching toward running for governor, jumped into the fray and slammed Hochul for mishandling a position important to the Italian-American community.
Hochul’s commitment to filling the position came hours after Alfieri told The Post the governor’s senior advisers had said to her they were eliminating the Italian directorship as unnecessary while terminating her.
“It’s not about me. It’s about the Italian-American community being dismissed,” said Alfieri.
Told of Hochul’s pledge Tuesday night, Alfieri said, “This is a victory for the Italian-American community. If the governor has changed her mind and is going to appoint a replacement, that’s wonderful news.”
“l will personally support whoever takes my place.”
Italian Americans comprise the state’s largest ethnic group. Citizens who identify as either full Italian descent or partial ancestry comprise 12 percent of the state’s population, census data reveal.