Roland Patten was a leading advocate for the adoption in Maine of the initiative and referendum process. He was the press secretary of the Initiative and Referendum League of Maine and the editor of the Skowhegan Independence Reporter.
Patten was an advocate of municipal ownership of public utilities. "About 1894," he wrote, he "heard something of the idea [of I&R] as made use of in Switzerland" and realized that I&R could be used in the cause of municipal ownership.
Patten was a member of the Republican Party. He first pushed for adoption of an I&R resolution at the Republican convention in his county. Failing there, he became a leader of the state's Socialist Party and lobbied all four of the state's major parties - Republican, Democratic, Socialist, and Prohibitionist - to endorse I&R.
Patten also founded the Initiative and Referendum League of Maine
Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman elected to both the U.S. House and the Senate, and the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the U.S. Presidency at a major party's convention (the 1964 Republican Convention), worked as a stenographer, subscription clerk and "Gal Friday" under Patten at his Skowhegan newspaper in the early 1920s.