David A. Paterson may become New York’s first Black governor amid speculation that Eliot Spitzer may step down after he was allegedly implicated in a prostitution scandal.
Paterson, 53, who hails from Harlem is currently the lieutenant governor and ran as Spitzer’s running mate in 2006. Before becoming lieutenant governor, Paterson — who hails from a powerful Black political family — served as the minority leader in the New York Senate, becoming the first non-White to ever hold that position in New York history. In the Senate, he was praised for his ability to create consensus among Republicans and Democrats.
Paterson, who is legally blind, has been a strong proponent of public education and has championed programs that create opportunities for minorities to attend college.
A graduate of Columbia University, Paterson attended Hofstra University’s law school. He graduated in 1983 and went on to work as an assistant district attorney in Queens.
“He is one of the most honest and open politicians that we have,” says Beverly Alston, who up until recently, served as Paterson’s special assistant. “He’s tough, make no mistake about that, but he’s also fair.”
Those who know Paterson say that with his experience in the state Legislature, he can easily assume the role of governor.
“I’ve never even contemplated if he was prepared for the job,” says Yasmin Cornelius, who is the deputy director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the country’s largest community development support organization, dedicated to helping revitalize low-income urban and rural communities.
“He is not a newcomer. Everyone should feel assured that New York state is not going down.”
Critics have called for Spitzer’s resignation and he is said to be considering it.
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