Paterson David life and biography

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Paterson David biography

Date of birth : 1954-05-02
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-05-13
Credited as : Politician, Governor of New York, Michelle Paige

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David Alexander Paterson (born May 20, 1954) is the 55th and current Governor of New York. He is 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
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, and graduated 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.

Political career

In 1985, Paterson resigned from the Queens District Attorney's office so he could join the campaign of then city clerk David Dinkins to win the Democratic nomination for Manhattan Borough President. That summer, on August 6, state senator Leon Bogues died, and Paterson sought and obtained the Democratic party nomination for the seat. In mid-September, a meeting of 648 Democratic committee members on the first ballot gave Paterson 58% of the vote, giving him the party nomination. That October, Paterson won the virtually uncontested special State Senate election. At the time, the 29th Senate district covered the Manhattan neighborhoods of Harlem, Manhattan Valley and the Upper West Side, the same district that Paterson's father had represented. Upon his election, Paterson became the youngest State Senator in Albany. He won the seat again in 1986 for a full term representing the 29th District in the New York State Senate, and served as senator until assuming the office of Lieutenant Governor on January 1, 2007.

Paterson briefly ran in the Democratic primary for the office of New York City Public Advocate in 1993, but was defeated by Mark J. Green.

Paterson was elected by the Democratic caucus of the Senate as Minority Leader on November 20, 2002, becoming both the first non-white state legislative leader and the highest-ranking black elected official in the history of New York State, unseating the incumbent Minority Leader, Martin Connor. Paterson became known for his consensus-building style coupled with sharp political skills.

In 2006, Paterson sponsored a controversial bill to limit the use of deadly force by the police, but later changed that position. He also supported non-citizen voting in New York local elections. According to the New York Post, he "chalked up a heavily liberal record." Describing Paterson's tenure in the senate, The New York Times cited his "wit, flurries of reform proposals and unusual bursts of candor".

Paterson was selected by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as his running mate for the Governor's office in 2006. The news stunned the New York political world, as the Democratic minority was poised to possibly take over the state legislature. Paterson would trade a possible powerful Senate Majority Leader position for the largely ceremonial Lieutenant Governor post. During their 2006 campaign, Paterson resolved a dispute with Spitzer over turf wars between staff members. The Spitzer-Paterson ticket won a landslide victory in the election, with 69% of the vote. It was the largest margin of victory in a gubernatorial race in New York history, and the second-largest for any statewide race in New York history.

In late December 2006, shortly before being sworn in as lieutenant governor, Paterson said that if he ever succeeded Spitzer as governor, he and Nelson A. Rockefeller would have something besides the governorship in common: great difficulty in reading. Rockefeller was dyslexic, which Paterson compared to his blindness. During his time as Lieutenant Governor, Paterson also served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School for International and Public Affairs.

Paterson ascended to the governor's office during the busiest legislative period of the year. The state is required by law to pass its budget prior to April 1. He had only two weeks to negotiate with lawmakers a proposal to close a $4.7 billion deficit and pass a $124 billion budget from the Spitzer administration. He stated in his inauguration speech that it would be his top priority.

Paterson also made reference in his speech to the economic woes being faced in the United States, calling them a "crisis", and promised to "adjust the budget accordingly". Since 1984, New York State has only passed a budget on time once, in 2005, leading Paterson to call for an "end to the dysfunction in Albany" in his speech, echoing a 56-page study from the nonpartisan New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice, which referred to the legislature as "the least deliberative and most dysfunctional in the nation".

In April 2009, it was revealed that Paterson would propose legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. Paterson later tapped former Senate Majority Leader and former political foe Joseph Bruno to support same-sex marriage in Albany.

In February 2010 charges were made that Paterson may been involved in witness tampering in a domestic abuse case involving staffer David W. Johnson after New York State Police and his staffers talked to the woman to get her to drop the case. Paterson was accused of talking to the woman personally a day before the case was dropped. Paterson dropped his re-election bid on February 26 but has maintained his innocence and rejected calls for his resignation.

On March 3, 2010, charges were made he had lied under oath with regard to charges that he through Johnson had solicited free tickets from the Yankees for the World Series.

Personal life

Paterson is married to the former Michelle Paige. They "have a son, Alex, 13, and Mrs. Paterson has a daughter, Ashley, 19, from a previous marriage," according to a 2008 report in The New York Times... The Washington Times reported in 2008 that Paterson was becoming "the nation's third black governor since Reconstruction. L. Douglas Wilder served as Virginia's Democratic governor from 1990 to 1994, and Deval Patrick has been the Democratic governor of Massachusetts since January 2007"Paterson is married to the former Michelle Paige. They "have a son, Alex, 13, and Mrs. Paterson has a daughter, Ashley, 19, from a previous marriage," according to a 2008 report in The New York Times... The Washington Times reported in 2008 that Paterson was becoming "the nation's third black governor since Reconstruction. L. Douglas Wilder served as Virginia's Democratic governor from 1990 to 1994, and Deval Patrick has been the Democratic governor of Massachusetts since January 2007"

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