SCC Alumni Spotlight: Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield
Although he now serves his home community in a high-profile role, Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield wasn't always a fan of the limelight. In fact, the Nancy native and basketball stand-out credits his time at Somerset Community College (SCC) with helping him become more confident in himself as a student and leader.
Hatfield graduated from Nancy High School in 1976. His parents, Avery and Lois Hatfield, always encouraged education in their home.
My parents were both educators, Hatfield said. My sisters and I saw the value of having a good education firsthand. High school was seen as a milestone in the educational process, not the end.
Given that Hatfield was expected to continue his education after high school, and had the opportunity to play college basketball, his decision to attend Somerset Community College was an easy one, he said.
At 17, I wasn't ready to leave home, Hatfield said. SCC was part of the University of Kentucky system and had a basketball team. I was offered a scholarship to play there and took the opportunity.
Most of Hatfields memories and stories about his college days at SCC revolved around his time on the court.
Playing at SCC gave me the opportunity to fulfill a dream of playing basketball in college, said Hatfield, who was part of the last organized SCC basketball team. The community really pitched in to support the program by feeding us, giving us a place to practice and play and by attending the games.
After graduating from SCC, Hatfield chose to transfer to Eastern Kentucky University. He wanted to go into federal law enforcement, so he paid his dues by working as a dispatcher and Deputy Sheriff with the Pulaski County Sheriffs Office and watching trials. There, he developed a love for the legal side of the justice system and was later accepted to the University of Louisville School of Law, now known as the Brandeis School of Law.
Hatfield graduated from law school in 1981 and came back to his home county to give back.
I chose to come back home, Hatfield said. I knew I wanted to marry and have a family someday and that I wanted to raise my children here in Pulaski County. My wife (Debbie, a Kindergarten teacher at Pulaski Elementary) and I have done just that. Pulaski County has been very good to my family throughout the years, which is one reason I ran for County Attorney...to give back to a community that has given so much to me.
In addition to his service at County Attorney, a role he has held since being elected in 2010, Hatfield also serves on the boards of the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Governors Kentucky Criminal Justice Council, Kentucky County Attorneys Association, Somerset Community College Foundation and is the Kentucky County Attorneys representative to the Kentucky Supreme Court Criminal Rules Committee. He was also recently appointed by Governor Matt Bevin as one of three county attorneys from across Kentucky to serve on the Attorney Generals Prosecutors Advisory Council. He is a member of Sievers Lodge #491 and First Baptist Church. Most recently, Hatfield was recognized as Outstanding County Attorney at the Kentucky Prosecutors Conference.
Before becoming the Pulaski County Attorney, Hatfield served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Kentucky for 16 years. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Commonwealths Attorney for Pulaski and Rockcastle counties for almost five years.
His path, he said, has been greatly influenced by his family and education.
SCC provided someone like me, who was a little shy and backward, with the opportunity to not only learn, but to be comfortable in a new environment, Hatfield said.
Hatfields sisters both attended SCC as well, he said, and having the opportunity to know everyone from the college president to his professors to his teammates, made a difference.
I grew so much during my time at SCC, Hatfield said. My self-esteem was built through small classes and professors who took a personal interest in me. When I left SCC, I knew I could excel in a college environment.
Today, Hatfield stays connected to the college through his service on the SCC Foundation board.
This is a small community, he said. We all live here and are invested in each other. I feel certain the education I received at SCC played a big role in my success in life and supporting our local educational opportunities only strengthens our city and county for the next generation.
Spending his career in public service, Hatfield said, has given him the opportunity to help set people up to achieve and succeed, not fail.
It all starts with good raising and good education, and I was blessed to have both," Hatfield said. As County Attorney, one of the things I try to do is to help people understand what tools they need to change their lives and become contributing members of their community. I firmly believe education is one of the major tools necessary to accomplish that.
Pictured: Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield was part of the last SCC basketball team. Hatfield, number 14, is shown at far right.