New York State School Boards Association

Michelle Paterson: Loss of privacy has been a strain

On Board Online • Web Exclusive • June 9, 2008

By Marc Humbert
Senior Writer

A day after David Paterson took the oath as New York’s 55th governor, Michelle Paige Paterson found herself standing beside her husband of 16 years publicly discussing their marital infidelities.

In a wide-ranging interview with On Board, Paterson said the loss of privacy that news conference epitomized has been “very tough.”

“I was used to basically doing my job (as a health care industry executive) and having my own career, and my privacy,” she said.

“Most people at my job didn’t know who I was,” Paterson told On Board. “And then overnight, I’m walking into the building and everyone is saying, ‘Hi, Michelle,’ and looking at me.

“I think I am pretty shy and I just like to be in my little corner and do my thing, and so this has been a little difficult for me,” she added.

Gov. Paterson has said the couple decided to go public about their affairs out of concern that such information would be leaked to the news media in the wake of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s resignation after being identified as a client of a prostitution ring.

“That’s extremely tough,” the new first lady said. “But you know what you’re doing is right. You just keep your head up and move forward.”

Paterson said the first few days were also an adjustment for their 14-year-old son, Alex, and her daughter from a previous marriage, Ashley, a 19-year-old Ithaca College student.

“My son was looking at the newspapers everyday, asking me what papers do most people read? It was very, very upsetting,” she recalled. “My daughter would be very upset.

“But, you know, they are moving on, and it just makes you stronger for what’s ahead in life,” their mother added.

Paterson said that while Alex and Ashley will be spending much of the summer with their parents at the Executive Mansion in Albany, they have not been caught up in the new celebrity of mom and dad.

“My son is in that teenage age. He’s really focused on girls and he’s really not thinking about that,” his mother explained. “And my daughter has her own life.”

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