ENG: David Alexander Paterson (born May 20, 1954) is an American politician who served as the 55th Governor of New York, from 2008 to 2010. During his tenure he was the first governor of New York of African American heritage and also the second legally blind governor of any U.S. state after Bob C. Riley, who was Acting Governor of Arkansas for 11 days in January 1975.
After graduating from Hofstra Law School, Paterson worked in the District Attorney's office of Queens County, New York, and on the staff of Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins. In 1985, he was elected to the New York State Senate to a seat that was once held by his father, former New York Secretary of State Basil Paterson. In 2003, he rose to the position of Senate Minority Leader. Paterson was selected as running mate by then-New York Attorney General and Democratic Party nominee Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 New York gubernatorial election. Spitzer and Paterson were elected in November 2006 with 69 percent of the vote, and Paterson took office as Lieutenant Governor on January 1, 2007.
When Spitzer resigned in the wake of a prostitution scandal, Paterson was sworn in as governor of New York on March 17, 2008. Paterson initially intended to run for a full term in the 2010 gubernatorial election, but announced on February 26, 2010, that he would not be a candidate in the Democratic primary.
Early life and background
David Paterson was born in Brooklyn to Portia Paterson, a homemaker, and labor law attorney Basil Paterson. Basil Paterson was later a New York state senator and secretary of state, and served as deputy mayor of New York City. According to a New York Now interview, Paterson traces his roots on his mother's side of the family to pre-Civil War African American slaves in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. His father is half Afro-Jamaican. His paternal grandmother, Evangeline Rondon Paterson (1900–1985) was secretary to Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. His paternal grandfather was Leonard James Paterson (1894–1968), a native of St. George's, Grenadawho arrived in the United States aboard the S.S. Vestris on May 16, 1917. Paterson has recently undergone genetic genealogy testing. His father's side consists of ancestors from England, Ireland, and Scotland, while his mother's side includes European ancestry as well as the Guinea-Bissau region of West Africa.
At the age of three months, Paterson contracted an ear infection which spread to his optic nerve, leaving him with no sight in his left eye and severely limited vision in his right. Since New York City public schools would not guarantee him an education without placing him in special education classes, his family bought a home in the Long Island suburb of South Hempstead so that he could attend mainstream classes there. Paterson was the first disabled student in the Hempstead public schools, graduating from Hempstead High School in 1971.
Paterson received a BA in history from Columbia University in 1977 and a law degree from Hofstra Law School in 1983. After law school, he went to work for the Queens District Attorney's Office, but did not pass the New York bar examination, and did not become an Attorney at law. He attributed his failing the New York bar to insufficient accommodation for his visual impairment, and has since advocated for changes in bar exam procedures.
Paterson's staff reads documents to him over voice mail. Paterson is the first governor of New York to be partly blind.
Governor of New York
Following Spitzer's resignation, Paterson was sworn in as the 55th Governor of New York, at the New York State Capitol on March 17, 2008, by New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye.
With his swearing-in, Paterson became the first Lieutenant Governor elevated to the governorship in New York due to a vacancy since 1973, when Lieutenant Governor Malcolm Wilson became Governor when Nelson Rockefeller, who later served as Vice-President of the United States in the administration of President Gerald R. Ford, resigned.
Paterson is the first black Governor of New York and the fourth in any U.S. state (following Reconstruction-era Louisiana Gov. P.
B. S. Pinchback, former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, and current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick). The Lieutenant Governor's office remained vacant until September 22, 2009, when the New York Court of Appeals, ruled in a 4-3 decision that Paterson's appointment of Richard Ravitch was constitutional. Prior to this appointment, under the state's constitution, the president pro tempore of the state senate, Malcolm Smith, would have been next in the line of succession for the Governor's office.
Paterson has used Global Strategy Group consultants for political advice as governor. His relationship with the firm began earlier. When he was lieutenant governor, GSG executives advised him on how to make the job more prominent, and the firm again advised him during the transition and afterward. Soon after becoming governor, Paterson hired former Risa B. Heller from GSG as his director of communications. As of September 2008, Paterson and the state Democratic Party were each paying GSG a retainer of $15,000 a month in addition to costs associated with polling and political advertising.
On July 17, 2008, Paterson was the keynote speaker addressing the 99th annual convention of the NAACP in Cincinnati, Ohio. Other speakers included Congressman Charles Rangel and U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain.
Although Paterson is a lifelong Democrat who was considered a liberal during his time in the State Senate, he earned praise from conservatives during his time as Governor for his efforts to combat the 2008 New York fiscal crisis by major reductions in spending and the enaction of an inflation-indexed property tax cap, a school tax "circuit breaker," and unfunded mandate relief, as well as his appointment of Blue Dog Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy created by Hillary Clinton's appointment as United States Secretary of State.
In September 2010, Paterson was one of seven governors to receive a grade of F in the Cato Institute's fiscal-policy report card.
On March 2, 2011, Johnson plead guilty to misdemeanor second-degree harassment. If he stays out of trouble for a year, it will be removed from his record.