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Dutchess County Honors Lucille P. Pattison
County Office Building dedicated to first female County Executive as part of Heritage Days celebration

Published: 9/20/2013

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie, NY… As Dutchess County celebrates Heritage Days and reflects back on the 300 years of Democracy in Dutchess, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro has begun recognizing the contributions of several former county and state officials whose commitment to public service in more recent history has improved and enhanced the quality of life in Dutchess County. The first of those celebrations today took place this afternoon as the Dutchess County Office Building was dedicated to former Dutchess County Executive Lucille P. Pattison.

County Executive Molinaro said, "Lucille Pattison served us with distinction and compassion; strength and grace. She led through challenges, expanded opportunity and responded to the trials of her time. It is an honor for this county government to dedicate the Dutchess County Office Building to her and for the people of Dutchess County to always remember the life and service of a remarkable woman.” (County Executive Molinaro's remarks .pdf)

Lucille P. Pattison began her public service in Dutchess County Government when she was elected to serve as the representative for the Town of Hyde Park in the Dutchess County Legislature beginning in 1973. During her five years in the Dutchess County Legislature, she served as Minority Leader in 1976 and 1978, with an interim term as Majority Leader in 1977.

In 1978, Pattison became Dutchess County’s and New York State’s first female county executive when she won a special election following the indictment and subsequent resignation of County Executive Edward Schueler. Pattison also was the first Democrat to serve as Dutchess County Executive.

Lucille Pattison was credited with bringing integrity back to the Office of the County Executive. As County Executive, Pattison expanded the influence of the Executive branch of county government with a focus on a higher level of professionalism throughout county departments. Pattison appointed department heads and other personnel based on their training and performance, making Dutchess an admirable example of government efficiency. Initiatives during her tenure as County Executive included the creation of the Resource Recovery Agency, the Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Award, and many others. Lucille Pattison served as County Executive for twelve years, retiring at the end of her third full term in 1991.

After retiring from county office, Pattison remained an active member of the community, serving as a trustee for Vassar and Northern Dutchess Hospitals, as a mediator for the Family Court, and as a tutor for incarcerated youth. Lucille Pattison died after a long illness on June 19, 2013.

Today’s ceremony was attended by elected officials and community leaders from across the county and the state. County employees past and present, including many who served with Lucille Pattison, were in attendance. A plaque honoring County Executive Pattison was unveiled at the ceremony and now adorns the exterior of the Dutchess County Office Building.

Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), recalled Lucille Pattison’s leadership not only in Dutchess County, but as President of NYSAC where she was a fierce advocate for county governments across New York State.

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert G. Rolison said, “Lucille Pattison served as an example of what a county official should be when I was a young man, with how she carried herself and how she treated people. We are grateful to the Pattison family for sharing her with Dutchess County for so many years, both in the County Legislature and in the Office of County Executive. It is fitting tribute to remember her legacy with the dedication of the County Office Building in her honor.”

Dutchess County Legislature Minority Leader Barbara Jeter-Jackson said, “Lucille Pattison was a gracious and considerate person who cared not only about Dutchess County as an entity but also about the people in the communities that comprise Dutchess County. She gave of herself where and whenever needed."

The celebration of Heritage Days will continue later this month with the dedication of the Dutchess County Courthouse to the Honorable Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt. Other individuals to be honored at later dates for their contributions to Dutchess County include former County Executives David Schoentag and William R. Steinhaus as well as former New York State Assemblyman Emeel Betros and New York State Senators Jay Rolison and Stephen Saland.

“Dutchess County has been blessed to have so many individuals who have dedicated their lives to public service, seeking to make our community a better place. Lucille Pattison certainly was one of those individuals and we are forever grateful for her service. For generations to come, all those who enter the Dutchess County Office Building will be able to learn of the legacy Lucille Pattison has left in these halls,” concluded County Executive Molinaro.