After a few years writing columns and reporting on Nevada politics, someone finally asked him how much longer he would keep criticizing before he did something about it. That was the point at which Pat Hickey ran for office. He had just finished a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno and jumped into his first Nevada State Assembly race in 1996.
After one term, Pat left voluntarily to build a business and support his family. He launched Pat Hickey Painting and as a result of a hard-working business he was able to put his four children through College. He has a warm heart and deep love for his family, particularly his wife Shin to whom he attributes his greatest strength from 39 years of marriage. He feels a partnership and peace that sustains him through the challenges of business, politics or life in general.
While supporting his family and growing his business, Pat also gained experience as an editor of the Nevada Policy Research Institute and has periodically taught courses in the Nevada System of Higher Education. This Spring semester, I had the opportunity to join Pat’s political science course on an occasion to hear from Greg Ferraro, the president and founder of the Ferraro Group. From what I can tell, Pat is a well respected lecturer who offers an engaging and interactive course mixed with guest lectures from political experts.
Any student would be lucky to sit in a course taught by a two-time elected official like Pat who served four terms as an assemblyman in the Nevada State Legislature. His second term started in 2010 when Heidi Gansert stepped away to help Brian Sandoval move into the Governorship and then serve as his Chief of Staff. Pat followed Heidi’s footsteps in Assembly District 25 and served three terms between 2010-2016.
This year Pat took on a new focus as a member of the Nevada State Board of Education. He plans to ensure that funding allocated by lawmakers will be wisely and fairly distributed throughout Northern Nevada counties. In his open assembly seat, Pat endorsed Jill Tolles who he believes is a future leader in the legislature, one who is willing to learn, grow and do the right thing.
Pat is also the co-Chairman for Nevadan’s for Responsible Drug Policy. He doesn’t want to see Nevada pushed by corporate out-of-state interests that rush into legalizing retail marijuana. The intention of the last legislative session was to create a pathway to improve educational attainments and advance a workforce different than gaming. He said that recreational use would impact the two hallmarks of the New Nevada that Governor Sandoval worked hard to achieve.
This November Nevadan’s will vote on whether to legalize marijuana. We could make a big mistake by voting yes on question two if we allow it to pass the way that corporate interests have drafted the ballot measure. If the initiative passes, it will become a law for three years that Nevada legislators are unable to do anything about but suffer the consequences of a referendum written and paid for by corporate marijuana interests.
When I asked Pat more about his role in the community, he explained that the work he does in business and politics comes down to connecting and listening to either customers or constituents. His experience as a small business owner informed him about what the government does effectively and frequently the over reach of government in the lives of business owners and every day Nevadans. In regard to politics, Pat always considers himself a Nevadan before a republican.
He believes that Nevada public policy will be best served if law makers elect people that put the good of the state before the good of their partisan political party. This means that both republicans and democrats need to make difficult decisions that seemingly go against the partisans in their base. It’s a dream that politicians would put the greater good above all else, but it’s the road Pat took alongside his number one tip to never make yourself look better by making your competitors or opponents look worse.
Pat Hickey originated as a Tahoe Boy, but he grew into the values he holds today after critically examining politics, serving as a legislator and running a successful small business for many years. He signed the frontside of paychecks while seeking to find common ground and work together with people across the political aisle to overcome differences. To be an excellent policy maker, you have to be willing to strike a balance, which sometimes in politics means compromise.
PC: Pat Hickey