Hear Mayor Pat introduce himself, his work and his hope and vision for the future of Highlands, North Carolina.
I have been involved in studio pottery and sculpture for thirty years; I've been a juried member of the former Georgia Designer Craftsman, the Georgia Mountain Crafts Associations and I was a professor and the Chair of the Art Department at Piedmont College. My work is in numerous private and corporate collections.
US Army 1970 to 1973. Vietnam Service Medal and Army Commendation Metal
Public School Teacher with 6 years of experience
University Professor and Administrator 24 years. Developed several academic programs and secured funding for facilities.North Carolina Magistrate 10 years
Business owner and operator of Taylor Pottery for twenty-one years. Products sold on Main Street.*I have had an unblemished professional career. No lawsuits or accusations of wrongdoing. Now, some may fairly say I have made mistakes and errors, but I have never been dismissed or fired from a position. I was one of the longest serving department chairs in the history of Kennesaw State University.
Leadership Style and Philosophy:I learned in the military to stand up, step forward and always faithfully do my duty. That principle guides me in executing the duties of mayor. I applied that principle especially in our community’s battle against COVID. Working in concert with the town board, we had to make difficult emergency decisions. Some of those decisions may have not been well received by the public, but the action had to be taken although information was limited at the time. As we moved through the pandemic, I knew I had to be on continuous duty and set an example for the community, and to keep everyone constantly informed as best I could.
From my many years as a teacher and educator I have learned to model appropriate behavior and set an example for others to follow. As in the military, as a teacher I never expected young people to do something I hadn’t done or was unwilling to do myself. I enlist and surround myself with the best the most talented professionals. I let them do their work and shine without me micromanaging each person and action. My leadership mission is to get all stakeholders in the organization to work as a unit to achieve the best outcomes and goals. I support professional staff, expect their best performance, and will hold them accountable when performance outcomes fall short. Also, as the highest elected official of the town I will take full responsibility when goals and expectations are not met and give full credit to staff members who generate successful results.
Town Accomplishments Since Being Elected Mayor:Rebuilt and refurbished the recreation department facilities, including the new covered pool complex, the new gym floor, the new aerobics room, the refurbished workout rooms, bridge rooms, tennis and pickle ball courts, the skate park and the new ball field facilities. Many of these initiatives were in collaboration with Macon County and private donor partnerships.
Built the facilities at Founders Park. Again collaboration with private and county sources were secured.Developed the Smart Cities broadband fiber optic network that is in the process of completion. Costs for this construction project was 5 million dollars. The contract with Hotwire to lease the network fiber for 25 years in 10.2 million dollars. Hotwire will put 3 million dollars into the construction of the remaining underground network which will serve about 18% of the town.Implemented the first BearWise program in North Carolina. The program protects our wildlife and also improves garbage collection and litter control.
Implemented a comprehensive town road paving program by resurfacing existing streets and paving unpaved roads to control sediment runoff into our streams.
Completed the water intake at Lake Sequoyah to insure ample water service.
Refurbished the Lake Sequoyah Dam for the first time since 1929. 1.2 million dollars for the projects secured primarily through the grants.
Replaced the failing BuckHorn water tank on Satulah with a new one with twice the capacity. The 1.8 million dollar project was paid for with town surplus funds.
Stopped a private company from taking over the defunct Highlands Hydro Plant on the Cullasaja River. The plan would have had serious environmental impact on that fragile eco system.
Awarded the Dogwood Award by NC Attorney General Josh Stein for my advocacy for health care access in Western Carolina. Specially, I advocated during the sale of Mission to HCA for a 10 year commitment from HCA to assure the operation of the small, rural hospitals in the Mission system. The original sales agreement only guaranteed the operation of those hospitals for 5 years. Mayor Bob Scott and I travelled to Raleigh and met with the attorney general staff to advocate for Stein extending the commitment to 10 years, along with other requirements related to services, etc. The AG did just that in his approval of the sale to HCA.
Have kept electric rates flat for 6 years.
Fought Duke Energy over coal ash charges. Refused to sign a non disclosure agreement with Duke that would have hidden these charges on customer bills. Spoke before the NC Utilities Commission against customers being charged coal ash fees.Lead the town in taking proactive measures in curtailing the COVID pandemic in the town. Instituted emergency measures before the state did. Our measures were stronger than surrounding county measures.I took the initial steps in setting up the Covid vaccination clinic by making sure the town offered our facilities and full support to the program.
Community Involvement;Rotarian for 15 years.
First potter in residence at the Bascom. Volunteered and worked to make the residency a paid position.Served on the board and was a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters for 10 years.Served on the board and volunteer for the Highlands Greenway for 10 years.Served on the Fidelia Eckerd Board for 2 years.Member of the American Legion Post 370.Active member of the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Served on several committeesActive member of the Southwestern Regional Planning Commission. Current chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee.Member of the North Carolina Mayors Association.