Newly-elected Calhoun County Commissioner Lee Patterson has always been patriotic, but a huge rush of loyalty and love for his country went through his veins on 9/11.
Patterson was at work at UPS when the first tower was hit. He was at the doctor’s office when the second was hit.
“I remember clear as day watching that tower fall,” said Patterson.
It didn’t take long for him to realize that it was his time to step up to the plate and do something for his community and country. He’d never had a hand in politics, but when K.L. Brown ran for state representative in a special election after the death of Lea Fite, and Roy Moore ran for governor, he campaigned for both.
“I knew I couldn’t go in the military, but I knew I wanted to serve my country in some capacity,” he said. “It was my desire to give back.”
Patterson has taken that desire to another level. He won over four other Republicans to take the nomination for the county commissioner’s District 5 seat Tuesday night. Patterson said he didn’t think he’d win in the primary without a run-off but had asked many to pray for 51percent.
In 47 of 47 precincts, he came out on top with 52 percent of the votes. The next closest was Phillip D. Pritchett with 17 percent. Jay Dill had 16 percent, Bill S. Lindsey had 9 percent, and Jason Lively had 6 percent.
Patterson said the first thing he wants to do is sit down with current county administrator Ken Joiner and incoming county administrator Jonathan Gaddy and learn everything he can.
“Then I want to go around and learn what each department in the county does,” he said. “It’s going to be a learning curve. I want to meet with city, school and community leaders in the district, including all those wonderful people who live in the Pleasant Valley community, and see what their needs are and what their perspectives are on what needs to be done.”
Patterson said he intends to give air to citizens who have ideas on projects that need to be worked on first.
“I have several interests,” he said. “The Ladiga Trail has so much potential, and most of it runs through our district. Another thing I see is that downtown Piedmont has a lot of empty buildings. I’m not sure what my role is in solving that problem, but I want to work with folks up there to find ways to eliminate that.”
Patterson said that Piedmont is the perfect setting for antique shops and eateries that will benefit passing cyclists. He said he wants to concentrate on Piedmont as well as his hometown of Jacksonville to bring in tourism and jobs.
“This district is very picturesque,” added Patterson. “It’s very inviting. The things that are dearest to my heart are our schools. Without a doubt, our children are our biggest asset. They’re our richest resource, and we need to continue to improve our school systems.”
Patterson said as commissioner, he will help with discretionary funds and fill in gaps with school needs.
“I will have a limited amount of that money, but I’ll do everything I can do,” he said. “I want to continue the good work that Rudy Abbott has done. I want to build on what he did and work to improve infrastructure in the district.”
Patterson’s plans are to work with the McClellan Development Authority and Calhoun County Economic Development Council to help bring jobs to the district.
“We had a very clean race,” he said. “Bill Lindsey won in Piedmont, and I want to compliment him. He worked really hard. I’m very happy to say that the four men I ran against are outstanding citizens.”
Patterson said he has many people to thank.
“My church family and my Sunday school class were wonderful,” he said. “They voted for me because they know me and know I will get the job done. There were those who encouraged and mentored me. Many helped canvass, make phone calls, made donations, and most importantly prayed. They were a tremendous help and I can’t thank them enough. I know I can’t mention everyone who supported me, but I just want each and every person who voted for me to know that I will do my best with what comes before me.”
Patterson is married to the former Susan Hay, who has just completed 22 years as a teacher at Kitty Stone Elementary. They have three children. Morgan, 20, is working on a secondary education degree at Jacksonville State University. She is also involved in the drama department there. Mallory, 17, a senior at Jacksonville High School, played on the state volleyball championship team last year and will play again this year. Benjamin, 14, is in the ninth grade at JHS, plays football and has a black belt in Yoshukai karate. Patterson said all three of his children talk about being teachers.
Patterson is in his 31st year of driving for UPS. He’s a deacon at First Baptist Church and sings on the Praise Team. He is a member of the JHS J Club. He graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1982 and attended JSU.
Patterson is a homebuilder and enjoys landscaping.
His parents are Otis Patterson and the late Martha Patterson. His sister, Lana Turner, lives in Iron City. His brother, Lane Patterson, lives in Oxford. Susan’s parents are Brice and Jane Hay of Jacksonville.
Patterson grew up on Patterson Lake Road and is now living on his wife’s family estate in the Merrellton community between Jacksonville and Piedmont.