Bill Mintiens
The Redmond Spokesman

Jay Patrick, 53-year resident and 20-year city councilor, jokes about moving to Terrebonne in the mid-1960s after his father retired from the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

“I spent most of first grade at the Terrebonne grade school,” he said. “They thought I had some type of problem speaking because of my southern accent!”

For those who know Patrick this story is particularly poignant because, starting in eighth grade, Jay began suffering from a illness called dystonia which, to this day, leaves him with a slight speech impediment and altered gait.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder in which sustained or repetitive muscle contractions result in twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal fixed postures.

Often intensified or exacerbated by physical activity, this was particularly troublesome for the athletic young man.

“I first noticed problems when I was trying to shoot (basketball) free throws,” Patrick recalled. “My wrist just wouldn’t bend the way it normally did.”

By the ninth grade, the condition progressed to a point where Patrick even had trouble walking.

Thankfully, a local physician, and doctors in Portland, correctly diagnosed the illness and, with a huge outpouring of community support and funding, Patrick traveled to New York in 1974 for two brain surgeries that successfully alleviated many of the symptoms.

During his three-year recovery Patrick was unable to play the sports he so loved. But he didn’t let his medical condition slow him down. He poured his energies into student government and was elected class president of his eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th-grade classes.

“That kept me going in a lane that I could travel in because I couldn’t really do sports,” he said.

The Spokesman kept readers updated regularly on Patrick’s progress at the time. Patrick responded with a January 1975 letter to the editor in which he thanked the community, shortly after arriving home from his second surgery in New York.

“I wish I could say thank you person by person but being unable to, I will use this method of saying thank you to the people of Redmond for the prayers, thoughts and financial help which they have given to myself and my parents,” Patrick wrote at the time.

This experience set the stage for Patrick’s interest in community service and nearly 20-year tenure as a Redmond city councilor.

After earning an associate’s degree from Central Oregon Community College, Patrick worked 18 years at Les Schwab Tires. Following that experience, he started back at COCC to obtain a four-year degree in computer technology.

A phone call, however, from a Madras teaching friend sped-up Patrick’s entrance into the world of computer technology.

“He told me about a part-time technology position with the Madras school system that was exactly what I was going back to school for,” said Patrick.

Patrick got the job and, a year later, in 2000, Madras hired him full-time to work in technology services throughout the school district.

“I wasn’t an expert in computer technology as a part-timer but I really soaked it all in, listened to peoples’ needs, and worked hard at learning and solving peoples’ computer problems,” Patrick said.

Patrick’s philosophy about listening and solving people’s problems helps him in his volunteer role as a city councilor. “It’s a lot like when I was involved in student government, being able to help produce a solution for things is what I believe I’m good at,” he said.

He would love to see Redmond maintain the small-town values and traditions that he experienced in the 1960s and ‘70s — back when the population was around 5,000 people.

“Redmond was totally different back then,” Patrick said. “Vern Patrick (no relation) and Bob Eberhard (co-owner of Eberhard’s Dairy) put on Fourth of July parties and sack races. Those things that were very interesting to we kids back then are considered boring these days.

“Back then we would go out in the morning and, as long as we were back at noon, we were outside hiking around and playing ball with our friends,” he added.

Patrick understands, however, that with a population cresting 28,000 people now, involving everyone in community events is a harder thing to do.

“If we can somehow keep the community mindset as a caring mindset then it will help as we grow,” he said. “We need to continually draw people into our downtown events like the Starlight Parade and the Fourth of July Parade.”

When considering the challenges that City Council faces now, Patrick cites finances as number one.

“We face a real financial issue in the city,” he said. “Our economic core, the tax base isn’t as large as it needs to be. We’re short on police and public works. Right now, there are five people taking care of all our parks in Redmond. Roads, too, need additional funding.”

But Patrick makes it clear that he’s not a guy who wants to increase taxes to fund needed services.

“I’m not a real big fee guy,” he said. “The town is growing, we had 1,200 housing units that we approved in the past six months that, as they come on line, will produce more money (from city taxes and fees). There are also more hotels that are maybe going to happen and, if they do, they will also produce more income.”

Like many other Oregon communities, Public Employee Retirement System liabilities are also weighing on Patrick’s mind.

“It (PERS) liabilities will continue to be a problem for at least 15-16 years,” he said.

Patrick considers himself a conservative regarding politics. “I consider myself to be pretty conservative-minded, financially conservative,” he said “It bugs me that the federal government has a printing press and they don’t ever stop printing money. We don’t do that at the local level.”

A fan of the city’s finance department, Patrick is quick to shower praise, particularly on Jason Neff, the deputy director of central services.

“I like him because he’s fiscally conservative like me,” Patrick said. “We normally don’t ever go over budget.”

Patrick is also impressed with what the Downtown Urban Renewal Advisory Committee has accomplished within the downtown district. “Urban renewal has done very good things for Redmond,” he said. “We’ve had some areas that have been hard to get going and that’s where urban renewal comes in and helps. It’s provided help with cleaning up buildings, facades, etc.”

Patrick believes that, within 10 years, Redmond may grow to 35,000 people. He said he wants to be sure that the city manages growth correctly.

“We want growth to happen the way it should with neighborhoods in the right spots, and, infrastructure-wise, we don’t want to kill ourselves,” he said.

Jay and his wife have one daughter and three grandchildren ages 10, 9, and 5, who all live in Redmond.

Jay Patrick, whose four-year term concludes at the end of 2018, plans on continuing as a councilor as long as the voters will elect him.

“As long as you have the desire to see positive things happen, then you are valuable on the council,” he said. “I really am on Council to do the best job for Redmond that I can do.”

— Contact Bill Mintiens at .