Candida Bido traveled from New York City hoping to witness firsthand the swearing-in ceremony of David Paterson as the 55th governor of New York.
Bido, who is a member of the National Women’s Caucus, said she had worked closely with Paterson in the past and was told she and three other members of the caucus would be able to sit in the Assembly chambers for the event, but at 12:30 p.m. she was sitting in the Blue Room disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to get inside.
“We were hoping to get inside, but it was such short notice and obviously not everyone can fit in there,” she said.
Luckily for Bido, tickets to sit inside became available moments before the 1 p.m. ceremony started and she was hustled upstairs.
Paterson’s swearing-in ceremony was meant to be a low-key affair involving a short speech that encouraged lawmakers to remember that there is still a lot of work to accomplish.
“Today is Monday,” Paterson said in his speech. “There is work to be done . . . and issues to be discussed.”
As low-key as the ceremony was meant to be, the event was anything but, with New York senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, the Rev. Al Sharpton and governors from New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts among the many luminaries present.
Besides celebrities and honored guests, many people wanted to participate in the historic event, including members of the public who were hoping tickets weren’t required.
Pat Fitzgerald brought his 14-year-old son, Ryan, and daughter Tara, 12, to Albany from their home south of Kingston in the hopes of witnessing the historic event.
“This is making history,” Fitzgerald said. “This is the first black governor and the first blind governor.”
Fitzgerald said he thought the event should be more open to the public. “He is our governor after all,” he said.
Those who weren’t invited into the Assembly Chamber were still able to watch the ceremony through a live feed projected onto a screen in the Capitol’s War Room.
About 200 department heads, state employees and citizens gathered in the War Room, including Peter Meyer of Hudson and his son Dylan.
Dylan Meyer, 13, was participating in a program at RPI and the pair decided to stop by the Capitol after. Surrounded by a sea of dark suits, the Meyers, casually dressed, were among the minority who dropped in off the street.
Paul Tonko, former assemblyman and current director of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, also watched the event from the War Room. Tonko said the number of people who wanted to participate in the event showed how much support there was for the new governor.
“We all want to support him,” he said. “It’s a difficult time at an awkward moment. We all want to pull together and David has the ingredients to make that happen.”
After Paterson’s address, he stopped by the War Room to thank his supporters.
Debra Kolsrud and Lori Salamack, both of Oakland, Calif., were present for the ceremony because they were in Johnstown over the weekend to attend the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Symposium. Both agreed that the way the ceremony was organized, especially the fact that Paterson visited the War Room, made it seem personal.
“We were pleased that they had this room open to the public because we’re not dignitaries or anything. We were just hoping to participate,” Salamack said.
“You got the feeling that he cares about the people,” Kolsrud said. “His warmth and humor was disarming and I think will help to bring people together.”
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