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Ole Miss Musings: Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson, Leaving A Legacy

After 16 years in city government (eight as mayor), Pat Patterson decides to return fully to private life. The growth of Oxford during his tenure is unprecedented in the city’s history. HottyToddy.com visited with the mayor following another successful Double Decker.

Photo by Jared Senseman

HottyToddy.com: Mayor, where do we start? Your two terms of mayor witnessed development never thought possible here.
Mayor Pat Patterson: Oxford is unique… still small and safe. We have a great partnership with the University and the County. There is such a great spectrum for a broad range of people that will continue to grow. Oxford is a city that you can walk anywhere at any time and not have to look over your shoulder.
HottyToddy.com: Reflecting back on our student days when the Ole Miss Motel and Holiday Inn were “the bells of the ball,” did you ever envision hotels like the ones Oxford has now?
Mayor Pat Patterson: No, of course not. No one else did either. I expect more to come. The hotels are making it a lot more convenient for those who want to come and visit.
HottyToddy.com: You are leaving the city in tremendous shape for Robyn. What aspect of your governing are you most proud?
Mayor Pat Patterson: I hope that we have done a good job managing the city financially, even with the explosive growth that we have experienced. We’ve established an excellent relationship with Ole Miss and Lafayette County which has not always been the case. And as to taxes, we only raised taxes two mills which were earmarked strictly to build new roads.
HottyToddy.com: As Oxford prepares itself for even more growth, how much more can our infrastructure support?
Mayor Pat Patterson: We’re going to have to grow infrastructure accordingly, that’s just the bottom line… from sewers to roads. We have a great source of water with our aquifer providing an exceptionally high quality. Our roads are a problem; however with the three entities working together (City, County and University), we have gotten to where we are. We have had to become creative as during my tenure as mayor, we have not received one dime of federal funding for new roads.
HottyToddy.com: The entry of parking meters during your tenure was criticized by some at first, but apparently turned out to be a financial success story for the city.
Mayor Pat Patterson: This has also been a success story for our businesses. I want to recognize Tom Sharpe, chairman of the Parking Commission, and his group that was formed five years ago. They have done a tremendous job. This year in gross revenue, the parking meters will realize $750,000.
HottyToddy.com: While we’re on the subject of parking, is the parking garage just northwest of the Square still on the radar?
Mayor Pat Patterson: Absolutely. We have selected an architectural firm that will produce a charrette by the end of May. We hope to be under construction by late fall.
HottyToddy.com: Mayor, when Oxford’s history is written for your era, what do you want to be remembered for most?
Mayor Pat Patterson: That I promised a common sense approach to government with a focus on service. I have done my best to fulfill this promise. With our growth, we have continued to stay a safe city. We’ve had great leadership in our public safety sector… both the police and fire fighters!
HottyToddy.com: As full time residents, we are thankful every day for the Oxford Police Department. How has it evolved over the previous eight years?
Mayor Pat Patterson: It has grown exponentially along with the community. We have competent, fair and honest law enforcement. We have also employed the use of equestrian assistance with the introduction of six horses and mounted officers. This has been very effective, especially in public relations. We had to find the financing for this. For special events and weekends, the horses are utilized to enhance public safety.
HottyToddy.com: Thinking back, was there any catastrophe that occurred (natural or otherwise) since becoming mayor? Our memory is coming up blank in that regard.
Mayor Pat Patterson: In a college town there is always the potential for a tragedy.
HottyToddy.com: What words of wisdom can you leave with Robyn and the council looking forward to the next four years?
Mayor Pat Patterson: The future of Oxford and the community is in good hands with Robyn and the Board of Aldermen.
HottyToddy.com: As Ole Miss continues to grow, is this causing undue stress for city services?
Mayor Pat Patterson: It is certainly causing stress. By managing 40,000 citizens with a tax base of 20,000 creates problems that most people do not realize. This includes EMS, police, infrastructure and trash pickup among others.
HottyToddy.com: Mayor, is there anything you regret not being able to accomplish during the past eight to 16 years?
Mayor Pat Patterson: There are always some things left undone. I wish we could have started our new activity center sooner. The bonds are now in place to more than double our existing space.
HottyToddy.com: You somewhat spoiled the citizens by having an open door policy to your office. Is this approach practical for future mayors?
Mayor Pat Patterson: It will be more difficult looking forward. People pay me to talk and listen to complaints and issues that are important to them. As we continue to grow, this will become more difficult to accommodate.
HottyToddy.com: Closing on a personal note, being a lifelong Oxford resident, Ole Miss alum and local businessman, what did you enjoy most about being mayor and why?
Mayor Pat Patterson: Being able to help people. Public officials on this level represent service with the main mission to serve and help those who elected them. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Lafayette, Oxford, University community!
How do we say “thank you” to an individual who sacrificed 16 years of his adult life to his community and serving in elected office? Mayor Pat Patterson will be remembered for a record of growth in Oxford that could never have been anticipated. But he probably will be remembered most for his personal style and friendly demeanor that exemplifies Oxford’s hospitality and quality of life. Mayor, thank you for a job well done! You will be greatly missed.

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
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