9/11 Stories: David Paterson


On September 11th, “...being in public office, I never felt so powerless because what was there to actually do? And what was there to do without getting in the way of those who were trying to rescue those who might still be in the building and those trying to provide assistance”. David Paterson became Governor of New York State in 2008, succeeding Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace in a prostitution scandal known as “Hookergate”. In 2001, David Paterson was a state senator, representing the Upper West Side of Manhattan and the neighborhood of Washington Heights.

When the day began on September 11th politics was front and center on the mind of State Senator Paterson. It was a last-minute get-out-the-vote day. September 11th was primary day in New York City, with mayor Rudy Giuliani term-limited and in his final months in office. Among those running in the Democratic primary to replace him: City Comptroller Alan Hevesi; City Council Speaker Peter Vallone; Bronx Boro President Fernand Ferrer and NYC Public Advocate Mark Green. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg had changed party affiliation, flipping to Republican, and ultimately beat Mark Green to become the new mayor of New York City, sworn in New Year’s Day 2002. The fire at Ground Zero was finally extinguished 100 days after September 11, less than 2 weeks before the new Mayor took his oath of office.