As David Paterson takes the oath of office to become New York's new Governor today, the Gotham Gazette takes a look at what New York might expect from him, including what his record has been on corruption, campaign finance reform, and public financing of campaigns.
In his time in the state Senate, Paterson was a leader on public financing and is expected to continue to pursue many of the reforms that made up Eliot Spitzer's platform for cleaning up Albany:
If one single issue was responsible for Spitzer's landslide victory in November 2006, it was reform. He promised to root out corruption and to wake New York from what Spitzer himself likened to years of slumber. To address this, Spitzer had planned to dramatically reduce the state's sky-high campaign contribution limits and backed an independent redistricting commission that would have been charged with redrawing the lines for state legislative districts, which have long been designed largely to keep incumbents in office.
Both of those proposals may or may not become part of a Paterson agenda.
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Paterson might be more successful at creating transparency and government reform because he has allies in the Assembly and the State Senate, said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.
"He comes in with a reputation for having a real ability to work with people in a real bipartisan way," said Lerner. "The truth of the matter is it seems to me that Eliot Spitzer had some real commitments to some important ideas, and I think that both he and Mr. Paterson ran on the same platform."
Though confident, Lerner said Common Cause is looking for Paterson to clarify his reform agenda quickly.
The new governor backed reform measures, including public financing of campaigns, during his tenure in the State Senate. As a result, Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a good government group and the sister organization to Gotham Gazette's publisher, said he expects Paterson to be a proponent of campaign finance changes.