Local News

May 2, 2014

Whitfield County youth has passion for politics

Listening to him introduce Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel or watching him mingle with the local elected officials and GOP officers who came to greet her, you’d think Beau Patton is an old-hand at politics.

And you’d be right. Patton has worked on the campaign trail for several candidates, and this year serves as Handel’s Whitfield County campaign chairman. But that’s a job Patton has to schedule around classes and homework. Patton, 18, is a junior at Northwest Whitfield High School.

“I was hoping for 50,”  he said of the turnout for a reception Friday for Handel he organized at Dalton’s Trevitt Hall. “I prayed for 50, and we got 50 people. I’ve never done anything this large before, but I have organized some smaller meetings.”

Patton said he became interested in politics in eighth grade.

“I went on a trip to Washington, and I got to see government in action,” he said. “I got to see Congress at work, and we got to meet with our senators and representative. That just sparked a strong interest.”

Several of the people on that trip were members of the Dalton Tea Party, a grassroots group that supports lower spending, reduced taxes and smaller government.

“I researched the beliefs of the tea party to find out what they believed. I found that I was on board with all of their beliefs, so I started going to tea party meetings,” he said.

Dalton Tea Party organizer Naomi Swanson said Patton has emerged as one of the more active tea party members.

“He’s active not only at the local level but at the district level,” Swanson said. “We always include him when we have meetings to discuss issues. You might say he is our youth representative.”

Patton also started getting involved with local campaigns, putting up signs for Whitfield County candidates he supported. He admits that going from a campaign volunteer to county chairman is a big step.

“I’ve been putting up signs and passing out information on her,” he said. “I’ve been speaking to people about her, and I’ve been making calls. We have a statewide call system.”

Patton’s grandmother Marjorie Mitchell says he has been making up to 100 calls per week on behalf of Handel.

“He’s doing all that while keeping up with school and church,” she said.

Patton says he’s had strong support from his family, especially his grandfather Frank Mitchell, who often drove him to tea party meetings and to put up signs when he was younger.

“This is something I have a passion for. It’s important to try to help good Christian people get elected,” Patton said.

So what does the future hold for Patton?

He says he would like to study business in college and possibly go to law school.

“I’d love to run for office if that opportunity presents itself. That is my plan, but I realize that will be some years away,” he said.

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