The Transition with Patrick Preston, City of Hillsboro, Public Affairs Manager

Hillsboro names broadcast television reporter as new public affairs manager

Here is an example of the circle of life of ELGL features. A few months ago, we covered the retirement of Barbara Simon, Hillsboro Public Affairs Manager. Today we cover the transition of her replacement, Patrick Preston. Patrick joins the wonderful world of local government after spending much of his career as a television reporter. If his face looks familiar (it could be for most reasons, hopefully good ones) it is most likely from his time anchoring political coverage at KATU in Portland.

We have a ton of questions for Patrick but we decided he probably doesn’t have a ton of spare time, so we narrowed down our line of questioning to focus on his current projects at Hillsboro, the role of social media in local government, and tips for improving the way governments communicate with the media.


Patrick Preston


Public Affairs Manager at City of Hillsboro


Senior Reporter at KATU-TV
Reporter – Investigative, Political at WCMH-TV
Co-founder/Publisher at Columbus Young Professionals (CYP)/C-BUS Magazine

Education: The George Washington University, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Political Science; Journalism

Connect: LinkedIn and Twitter

Background Check on the City of Hillsboro

Hillsboro is the fifth-largest city in Oregon. Hillsboro operates under a council-manager form of city government. Voters elect six at-large councilors and a mayor, who each serve four-year terms, subject to a charter-imposed limitation of two consecutive terms. The mayor and council appoint a city manager to conduct the ordinary business of the city. Policy decisions are the responsibility of the council and mayor. Administrative functions are carried out by the manager and manager-appointed staff. Government functions are centered at the Hillsboro Civic Center, which houses the office of the city manager and is the location of the twice-monthly city council meetings.

Hillsboro operates its own library system, fire department, parks department, water system, and police department.The Hillsboro Fire Department has five stations, and the Hillsboro Police Department operates two standard precincts and a mobile precinct. Wastewater treatment is provided through the county-wide Clean Water Services.

At the federal level, Hillsboro lies in Oregon’s 1st congressional district, represented by Suzanne Bonamici.In the State Senate, Hillsboro is in District 15, represented by (Bruce Starr), and District 13, represented by (Larry George), abuts to the south. In the House, Districts 29 (Katie Eyre Brewer) and 30 (Shawn Lindsay) cover the city. Parts of county commissioner districts 1 (Dick Schouten), 2 (Desari Strader), and 4 (Andy Duyck) overlap the city. In addition, Hillsboro lies within District 4 (Kathryn Harrington) of the Metro regional government.

Hillsboro NotablesRoddy-Piper-01

  • Two governors of Oregon, James Withycombe and Paul L. Patterson
  • Erik Ainge, quarterback formerly of the New York Jets
  • Scott Brosius,  third baseman for the Oakland Athletics (1991–1997) and the New York Yankees (1998–2001) and head baseball coach atLinfield College
  • Wally Backman, former Major League Baseball second baseman
  • Olympic medalists Josh Inman, Thomas Garrigus, and Jean Saubert
  • Professional wrestler Roddy Piper.

Connect with the City of Hillsboro: Twitter, and the World Wide Web

Background Check on Patrick

downloadBefore joining the city of Hillsboro, Patrick was a senior reporter for KATU. As a reporter, Preston received awards from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. His work assignments lead him to cover Ground Zero in New York City, the Pentagon, the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and the Iraqi War. Preston received an Emmy award for his work as an embedded reporter in Kuwait and Iraq.

Patrick  graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and journalism. He has served as the primary political reporter at television stations in Portland, Columbus, Ohio, and Spokane.

Lightning Round

First concert: U2 @ RFK Stadium

(Complete the sentence) Before I die I want to….. see Hillsboro get a water park.


Favorite Hillsboro restaurant: Amelia’s in downtown Hillsboro (best Mexican food around).

Five favorite websites:

  •, and

imagesDescribe the inside of your car: comfortably worn. After 14 years with my Accord, I plan to drive it to its end.

Favorite TV show: Parks and Rec or House of Cards – both are great, but it’s much more difficult to pull away from House of Cards.

What’s the meaning of life? Finding happiness in helping and caring for others, and taking calculated risks.

Q & A with Patrick

Three projects that you are currently working on.


  • City Views: Hillsboro’s newsletter. We print and deliver more than 42,000 copies every other month to Hillsboro homes, ensuring residents learn about happenings and events in the City.
  • Celebrate Hillsboro: though the street festival attracted 10,000 people last month, the success of the event is largely due to the year-long planning process. The focus now shifts to 2014 and the event’s 10th year.
  • Media outreach: increasing opportunities for the City of Hillsboro to communicate its stories and successes. We are seeing a notable increase in media attention in just the past few months and we are mindful that it’s important to foster these important working relationships.

Three accomplishments that you are most proud of from your time at KATU.

images (1)

  • Considering I worked there for less than two years, quickly familiarizing myself with federal, state, and local government issues in Oregon and Washington.
  • Serving as the station’s political analyst on Election Night 2012.
  • Advocating for greater attention to public policy issues in place of crime coverage.

What have been the biggest challenges transitioning from television journalism to local government?

Taking lunch. After years of racing to beat deadlines throughout the day, it still feels weird to stop and eat a sandwich without continuously typing or reading for work. In four months, I’ve gone to lunch about seven times.

What is the Hillsboro story?

The City of Hillsboro’s website has the long version. My feeling is that Hillsboro has capitalized on its growth and emergence as a regional leader to promote an increasingly higher quality of life for residents. There’s still that small town feel every Tuesday night and Saturday morning during the summer when the downtown streets close for the Farmer’s markets.

ELGL is hosting its inaugural conference next October at the Kennedy School. Give us three speaker or topic recommendations related to government in Oregon.liking-own-status-updates

  • Best practices for reaching a Spanish-speaking audience;
  • Making the most of social media;
  • Non-traditional ways of reaching the public.

You’ve worked for a few TV stations, based on those experiences, give our audience three tips for dealing with TV reporters.

  • Be responsive. If 5,000 people were to show up outside of City Hall, you would not ignore them. Most reporters have at least 5,000 people reading or watching their work. Help them do their job well in a timely manner.
  • Be friendly. Whoever answers the phone should not stop being polite as soon as they learn the caller is a reporter. The gatekeeper mentality does nothing to help the working relationship.
  • Understand the media. Do your best to speak directly with reporters and editors. Learn about their job and how they approach a story. People with media experience “get” how the business works and the knowledge pays off when you need the media’s assistance.

The use of social media continues to grow among area cities. What is the strategy in Hillsboro to using social media?

Connecting directly with our residents, business owners and all fans of Hillsboro without a filter. Reaching a generation that does not rely on traditional media for information and news. Thankfully, I can answer this question in more than 140 characters.

Write a headline for your first months on the job.

Media veteran moves to amazing job, City.

Describe the leadership style of Michael Brown.

He listens well, inspires others to think big and moves forward with decisiveness. He’s personable, ethical and exceptionally intelligent. So, I guess, he’s okay.

You’ve lived in seven states and Washington, DC. Rank your top three favorite places to live.

  1. Hillsboro;
  2. Washington, DC
  3. Orange County

What question(s) should I have asked?

You work for the City of Hillsboro, can you get me free tickets to a Hops baseball game?

Answer: Only if you enter and win the City’s Stay Connected e-newsletter sign-up contest.

Supplemental Reading