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Governor Paul L. Patterson's Administration

Biographical Note

Paul L. Patterson was governor from December 27, 1952 to January 31, 1956.

Patterson was born in Renton, Ohio on July 18, 1900. After service in the army during World War I, he entered the University of Oregon where he received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1923 and a law degree in 1926. Patterson established a private law practice in Washington County which he maintained until 1952. He also served as Deputy District Attorney for Washington County from 1926 to 1933. For many years he served as City Attorney for Hillsboro and surrounding communities.

Patterson's political career began in 1944 when he ran for the Oregon Senate as a Republican from Washington County. He served in the Senate from 1945 until 1952. On December 17, 1952, as President of the Senate, he succeeded to the governorship upon the resignation of Douglas McKay. He defeated Joseph K. Carson in the general election in 1954.

As governor, Patterson scrutinized state expenditures and guarded the state's reserve funds, while seeking federal funds to meet the water reclamation and unemployment problems that faced the state. He worked with Senator Elmo Smith to pass in 1955 the law which created a state surface and ground-water code and established the Water Resources Board to monitor and regulate it.

Patterson opposed new taxes. No sales tax should be adopted, he said, except through a popular initiative. He asked for but failed to get repeal of the federal income tax offset against the state income tax.

In the early 1950s he asked for more resources to curb unemployment. He successfully lobbied the federal government to sell up to 10 billion feet of wind-blown timber in small lots, to keep Oregon lumber workers busy during the winter season.

He continued to lend strong support to the national highway program in Oregon. He supported the federal government's partnership approach to hydroelectric projects.

Patterson championed local home rule and simplified government. "The problems of this country are too vast and too varied for one governmental unit to solve. Our future lies in upholding the rights of the states so they can approach and solve their own problems," Governor Patterson said in a speech to the national convention of Municipal Leagues in 1953.

Patterson challenged Wayne Morse for the United States Senate in 1956. Two days after his formal announcement on January 31, 1956, he collapsed and died from a coronary occlusion. After services at the state capitol on February 3, his remains were cremated in Mt. Crest Abbey, Salem, Oregon.

Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722

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