Pat Brister

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Patricia Phillips Beck "Pat" Brister​


Louisiana Republican State Chairman​
In office
2000​ – 2004​
Preceded by Chuck McMains
Succeeded by Roger F. Villere, Jr.

President of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
In office
January 2012​ – ​January 13, 2020
Preceded by Kevin Davis​
Succeeded by Michael Benton "Mike" Cooper

St. Tammany Parish Council member​ for District 4
In office
January 2000​ – January 2008​
Preceded by New position replacing St. Tammany Parish Police Jury​
Succeeded by Reid Falconer

Born December 6, 1946
LaGrange, Georgia, USA​
Died February 2, 2020 (aged 73)​
Spouse(s) First husband named "Beck"​

Joseph Stanley "Joe" Brister, Jr. (married 1977-2017, his death)

Children From first marriage:

Jill Beck Heebe
Matthew Beck
Mark Beck
From second marriage:
Kenneth Brister
Stepson:
Steven Clark Brister (deceased)
Nine grandchildren
Parents:
Brown and Thelma Christopher Phillips

Residence Mandeville, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana​
Alma mater Not mentioned in obituary
Occupation Businesswoman; Politician
Religion Presbyterian
Note:
  • Active at all levels of her party, Brister, a Moderate Republican, was the first and thus far only woman to serve as the Louisiana state party chairman.

Patricia Phillips Beck Brister, known as Pat Brister (December 6, 1946 – February 3, 2020), was a businesswoman and Republican politician from Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish in suburban New Orleans.[1]

Political life

Party chairmanship

From 2000 to 2004, Brister served as chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, the first woman to have held that particular position.[2]From 1996 to 2000, she was the Republican national committeewoman from Louisiana.[2]

Brister was elected party chairman in 2000 by the 144-member Republican State Central Committee to succeed Chuck McMains, a state representative from Baton Rouge, who served in 2000. She was in turn succeeded in 2004 by Roger F. Villere, Jr., a flower shop owner in Metairie in Jefferson Parish. Brister was a member of the site-selection committee which tapped Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to host the 2000 Republican National Convention. She was a Louisiana state elector in 2000. Thereafter, she was a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention, which met in New York City to re-nominate the Bush-Cheney ticket and worked thereafter for the GOP slate in Louisiana.[3]

George W. Bush appointee

In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Brister, a Moderate Republican, to a three-year term on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, Texas.[2]​ Earlier, while still governor of Texas, carried Brister's luggage when they crossed paths at an airport.[4]

In 2006, Bush named Brister as the Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Brister's tenure on the commission included the annual meetings held from February 28 through March 11, 2006, and again from February 25 to March 7, 2008.[1]

In May 2006, Brister was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Ambassador to the Commission on the Status of Women after her first convention session had ended. The commission was founded in 1946, a year after the United Nations was organized. During her tenure, Brister defended the Bush administration regarding its policies concerning the role of women and repeatedly praised the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as the United States Secretary of State. "The policies of the U.S. government have been and continue to be to encourage countries to include women in their initiatives. President Bush has been a strong advocate of democratization, and we fully believe empowering women will strengthen a country. We will continue to talk about that specific issue here at CSW," said Brister.[5]​ Brister continued, having noted that the United States commitment to medical care for women and children: "The US has been at the forefront, particularly here at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, in advocating for availability of medical care for women and children. We point to President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief ... which supports a variety of bilateral, regional, and multilateral initiatives."[5]

Running for state senator

Earlier in 1995, Brister ran unsuccessfully for state senator for District 11 (St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes). She was defeated in a runoff contest, 57 to 43 percent, by fellow Republican Tom Schedler[6] of Slidell in St. Tammany Parish, who held the Senate seat from 1996 to 2008, when he was term-limited by state law and succeeded by the Mandeville Republican Jack Donahue, who was term-limited in the 2019 primary.​ Schedler went on to serve as Louisiana Secretary of State, a post from which he was forced to resign in a sexual harassment scandal in 2018.

Governor Jindal appointee

On January 9, 2009, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal appointed Brister to the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission, the panel which regulates, operates, and controls the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which includes the bridge system and the causeway approach road system on the North Shore.[7]​ ​

Cozying up to Mary Landrieu

In 2013, Brister attended a fundraiser for liberal then Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, a candidate for a fourth term in the 2014 midterm elections. Landrieu was unseated by Republican then U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy of Louisiana's 6th congressional district.[8] Brister's embrace of Landrieu has been strongly criticized by Moon Griffon, the conservative statewide radio commentator, then based in Monroe but since Lafayette, a long-term critic of Senator Landrieu.[9]

St. Tammany Parish government

Brister served from 2000 to 2008 for District 4 seat of the elected St. Tammany Parish Council. In the 2000 contest, Brister polled 2,214 votes (54.1 percent). She was reelected to the council in 2003 but declined to seek a third term in 2007 and was succeeded by fellow Republican Reid Falconer of Madisonville, the winner of the primary over another Republican named John Robertson.[10]

On October 22, 2011, she was elected parish president with 73 percent of the vote and was sworn into office in January 2012.[11] She was reelected to that position in 2015.[1]

In 2019, Brister was unseated in her bid for a third term as parish president by her fellow Republican Michael Benton "Mike" Cooper (born November 27, 1953) of Covington. Her second term in office was dogged with budget cuts and the failure three times to extend two different sales taxes.[12] In the primary, held on October 12, she trailed Cooper and was unseated in the runoff contest on November 16. In the second balloting, Cooper polled 53,732 votes (61 percent) to Brister's 33,985 (39 percent).[13]

Personal life

Born in LaGrange in Troup County in western Georgia, Brister was one of six children of Brown and Thelma Christopher Phillips.[4] Involved in various business enterprises over the years, Brister was for a time the chief executive officer and chairman of the trustees of Orion College, a James Kirk diploma mill which operated in Mandeville from 1997 to 2002.[2]

Brister was married to Joseph Stanley "Joe" Brister, Jr. (1933-2017), a New Orleans native who established Brister-Stephens, Inc., an air conditioning and heating company, of which she was the former vice president. Her children from a previous marriage are Jill Beck Heebe, Matthew Beck, Mark Beck, Kenneth Beck, and stepson, Steven Clark Beck (1962-2010) of Destrehan in St. Charles Parish.[14][12]

Brister is a Presbyterian. Her political interest was initially fueled by the Parent-Teacher Association. She was formerly the executive director of the Northshore Business Council.[12]

Brister died on February 3, 2020 after a brief battle with cancer, which she had previously overcome. Her death came only three weeks after leaving office as parish president.[12]​ Her memorial service will be held on February 10 at Christ the King Church at 2205 Little Creek Road in Mandeville. Her family requests donation in lieu of flowers to the "Pat Brister Memorial Fund" at the Northshore Community Foundation.[15]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pat Brister cruises to victory in St. Tammany Parish president's race, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 23, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 FHFB appoints 36 public interest directors for FHFB Bank boards of directors. fhfa.gov (March 6, 2002). Retrieved on February 4, 2020.
  3. Brister, Pat:Index to Politicians. politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved on February 4, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pat Brister obituary. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (February 6, 2020). Retrieved on February 10, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ambassador Brister Discusses U.S. Support of Women Worldwide, America.gov., March 5, 2008
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 18, 1995.
  7. Governor Bobby Jindal Announces the Appointment of Patricia Brister to the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission. gov.louisiana.gov (January 9, 2009). Retrieved on November 8, 2009; no longer on-line.
  8. Former Louisiana GOP Chair Supports Obama? GOP Parish President Pat Brister is Singing Mary Landrieu's praises for her work for Louisiana families. The Dead Pelican (November 22, 2003). Retrieved on February 4, 2020.
  9. The Moon Griffon Show, November 22, 2013; December 3, 2013.
  10. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 20, 2007.
  11. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 22, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Dominic Massa (February 3, 2020). Former St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister has died: "Parish President Brister was a role model, mentor, and trailblazer for women in Louisiana politics," a family spokesperson said.. WWL-TV (CBS) in New Orleans. Retrieved on February 4, 2020.
  13. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 12 and November 16, 2019.
  14. Steven Brister obituary. Tributes.com. Retrieved on February 4, 2020.
  15. Memorial service for former St. Tammany Parish Pat Brister set for Monday. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (February 4, 2020). Retrieved on February 5, 2020.

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