Issue One offers its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of former Congresswoman Elizabeth J. Patterson (D-SC). Rep. Patterson was a member of our ReFormers Caucus, a bipartisan coalition composed of more than 200 former members of Congress, Cabinet officials, and governors advocating for solutions to fix the broken political system. She passed away Saturday after an extended illness at the age of 78.
In 1986, Rep. Patterson was elected to represent South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a position she held until 1993. While representing the 4th District in Congress, she served on three committees: Veterans’ Affairs; Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs; and the Select Committee on Hunger. She is perhaps best known for her leadership during the savings and loan industry crisis of the late 1980s, with a personal focus on protecting depositors and taxpayers from financial turmoil.
A South Carolina Democrat, Rep. Patterson was attracted to politics from an early age, as evident in her work for the Peace Corps and the Office of Economic Opportunity under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She first ran for political office in 1975 as a member of the Spartanburg City Council, a seat she would hold for one year. In 1978, she was elected to the South Carolina State Senate, where she served through 1986. While a state senator, Rep. Patterson became known for restructuring the state budget and serving on the governor’s task force on hunger and nutrition.
Following her political career, Rep. Patterson remained active with the Spartanburg County Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, and the Rotary Club of Spartanburg, which her son Pat said was her “big passion project.” In a statement, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said, “Congresswoman Patterson truly embodied truth and civility in politics. … She was a brilliant woman, and the legacy she leaves is one of determination and success. The congresswoman left our state better than she found it.”
Issue One is grateful for Rep. Elizabeth Patterson’s dedication to improving opportunities for every American, and for her commitment to increasing transparency in government. We will remember her for her efforts to advocate for the American people, and we extend our support to those closest to Rep. Patterson as we remember her tremendous legacy.