A Brief Introduction:
There are few political careers in Kentucky politics as storied or community-oriented as former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton’s. On the political spectrum, he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972 before turning to local politics to serve as the County Judge Executive of Pike County, Kentucky for three terms where much of his work on poverty alleviation and rural development began. It was during this time that Gov. Patton worked to unionize Pike County employees through the Teamsters and worked to have the Kentucky Rural Economic Development Act passed, which incentivized businesses to locate in rural counties that were considered economically depressed.
In 1991, Gov. Patton was elected to the position of Lieutenant Governor, serving under Governor Brereton Jones who appointed him also as Secretary of Economic Development in the Governor’s cabinet. It was during this time as Lieutenant Governor that he also served as President of the Kentucky Senate until a state constitutional change was enacted in 1992.
At the end of his term as Lieutenant Governor, Gov. Patton then ran for the Democratic party in the Governor’s race of 1995. After a successful campaign, Gov. Patton became the first Eastern Kentucky Governor since the election of Bert T. Combs in 1959.
During this first term as Governor, Patton’s influence on legislation stretched wide, beginning with worker’s compensation reform, and covering a wider variety of topics including sweeping reforms to both the juvenile justice and first-time offenders court proceedings, and his almost complete reworking of the Kentucky higher education system (particularly the community and technical college system) in order to allow easier access and transferable credits between schools. Though his work in education is what Gov. Patton is perhaps most known for, his other work during this time also received national attention with Attorney General Janet Reno calling Kentucky’s juvenile justice system, “A model for the nation.” Patton was then elected for a second term as governor is 1999 where he served until 2003.
After the end of his political career, Gov. Patton returned to Pike County Kentucky, serving on the Big Sandy Regional Economic Development Board and the Pikeville/Pike County Industrial and Economic Authority. It was soon after that he was chosen to serve as chairman of the Kentucky Council on Post-secondary Education (CPE) and then, in 2010, was officially inducted as the President of Pikeville College. Today, he continues to serve as Chancellor of Pikeville College (now University of Pikeville), continues to live in Pike County Kentucky, and has recently seen the opening of the Paul E. Patton College of Education on the University of Pikeville’s Campus.
Governor Patton will be joining the Centre College Campus community on Monday, November 12th to spearhead the conversations happening all over campus for Poverty and Homelessness Week. All students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to attend the convocation which will take place at 7:00 p.m. in Newlin Hall inside the Norton Center for the Arts.
The planned talk will cover some of the economic realities of Eastern Kentucky from a man who has worked closely not only in Kentucky politics but also in the attempted economic and environmental restructuring in the face of the decline of Kentucky’s coal economy and in broad-sweeping educational reform efforts across the state. There will be time for questions and audience participation.
(If your club, office, or organization is taking a headcount, you can Sign Up here to make sure your attendance is counted for that total–All students should still swipe in for convo credit!!)