Pat Price is definitely a pint-sized person, but her accomplishments are major. A lot of energy, experience, political know-how and good humor are packed into this small package.
Fifty-four years a LWV member, both in Pennsylvania and Sarasota. At least four times League president, and voter service chairman more times than she can remember. Holder of elected public office, member of countless boards, TV commentator, moderator of many public forums, and mother of six children.
What a resume. And probably not complete, because she doesn’t like to talk about herself.
Pat’s League (and community) involvement began in a suburb of Pittsburgh, where she served on the local Parks and Recreation Board, and then was appointed to the State Board, travelling throughout Pennsylvania giving workshops and seeking citizen input.
After that she ran for the Bethel Park municipal council. “I ran against two men in the primary, and my political party did not support me,” Pat explained. “But when I won, they had to back me.” In the general, she opposed another man and “won with 74 percent of the vote.”
After four years on the council, she “returned to the League,” but not before she was asked to run for the state legislature. She declined, citing the time commitment and demands of children in school.
After she and her husband, a former Merchant Marine officer, arrived in Sarasota in 1991, ”the first thing I did was transfer my League membership.” Soon after, she became League president, moderating political forums and co-hosting a weekly Blab TV show on political topics with former Sarasota Mayor Kerry Kirschner.
Why her dedication to voter service? “To me, it’s the heart of the League. Not just voter registration, but offering factual information to produce an informed voter. We are non-partisan. We never support a candidate or a political party but we do support and advocate for our positions. We do our own research and we stand alone, not affiliated with either party.”
“It’s important that others know that and that we as members remember it.”
What has changed in political life (and in the League) since your early involvement? “When I ran, we had signs, neighborhood coffees, lots of word-of-mouth work, no social media, no phone banks, no robo calls, no mailings, fewer dollars involved because we didn’t have the expense of TV ads. Also not the level of invective.”
The League then had a very active role in Pennsylvania, Pat recalls. “When I became president, the League set up a second phone in my dining room, and that was our headquarters. On election night, members would go to the precincts, pick up the ballots, and we counted them. The papers would call us to get the numbers.”
In some election years, Pat reported, ABC would pay the League to go to a designated sample precinct, count the votes, and call the station, which reported the result.
Quite a change from today, Pat agrees. “You can’t do it anymore with one phone and six kids, the way we did.”
But some issues still demand attention. She identifies development as one which continues to generate pushback today.
As voter service chairman this year, Pat returned to her favorite League duty. She expressed pride in the number and effectiveness of LWV members who rallied to her banner registering and educating Sarasota County voters.