Profile on PJ Patterson
With the general elections due next Wednesday, the Jamaica Observer's Western Bureau presents the final in its series of candidate profiles. This week, meet the People's National Party's candidate for Eastern Westmoreland, P J Patterson.
Percival Noel James Patterson, 67, first entered Parliament as a Government Senator in 1969, the same year he became the youngest Vice President of the PNP at the age of 33.
In March 1970, he became a Member of Parliament following his victory in a by-election for the constituency of South East Westmoreland. He has been re-elected by the constituency in five general elections since then.
His humble beginnings in rural Jamaica have left an indelible mark upon his mind. Throughout his illustrious career, Patterson has always remembered his roots. His boyhood years at Dias in Hanover and at school at Somerton in St James, and later at Calabar High, in Kingston, were significant in shaping his character and outlook.
He first entered politics in 1958, the same year he graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English.
After graduating from the UWI, Patterson worked as a party organizer (1958 - 1960). During his many years of association with the PNP, he has moved from organiser to vice president, then chairman - a position he held from 1983 to 1992.
He was campaign director for the PNP in 1972, 1976 and 1989. Then in March 1992, he was elected president of the PNP.
A lawyer by profession, Patterson pursued his calling, leaving Jamaica for England in 1960 to study law. At the London School of Economics, he won a Leverhulme scholarship and was awarded the Sir David Hughes Parry Prize for Excellence in the Law of Contract. He was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1963, and in the same year to the Jamaican Bar. He became a Queen's Counsel in 1984 and was appointed a member of the Privy Council in 1992.
P J Patterson has held senior cabinet positions, including Minister of Industry & Tourism, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Minister of Development, Planning & Production, Minister of Finance & Planning, and Prime Minister since 1992. He was re-elected Prime Minister in March 1993 and December 1997.
His recreational interests include Jamaican music, jazz, and spectator sports such as cricket, football, Track & Field, and lawn tennis. He has been married and is the father of two children and two grandchildren.
Patterson now answers the question: Why should the people of Eastern Westmoreland vote for you?
"Since 1970 it has been my privilege to serve the constituency of Eastern Westmoreland and managed to ensure its progress through programmes of economic growth, social development and the improvement of its physical infrastructure.
In Eastern Westmoreland, we can point to the solid achievements in education and training, health, housing, roads, water supply and other infrastructure developments.
New schools have been built and several have been expanded. Trade Training Centres have been built, replaced and refurbished at Whitehouse, Enfield, Seaford Town and Petersville to serve the young people of the community, equipping them to help themselves.
Health facilities have been improved and thousands have benefited from the Drug for the Elderly Programme, through which senior citizens are able to get medication at a fraction of the cost.
Numerous roads have been upgraded and water supply systems commissioned. Electricity has been brought to many areas and the few, which remain, are already included in the Rural Electrification Programme.
In what is primarily an agricultural area, thousands of farmers have been assisted with tools and other supplies and more jobs have been created than ever before, through programmes such as the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and Lift Up Jamaica.
I plan to continue to provide quality service, and to deepen the culture of dialogue, which now prevails.
I plan to continue the programme of infrastructural development, as this lays the basis for the people of this constituency to access the vast opportunities, which are increasingly being made available.
This is a time of tremendous promise and possibility. I have proven my ability to represent the people of Eastern Westmoreland, and accept the ongoing challenge and responsibility of continuing to build the constituency. My executive and entire constituency organisation are committed to the task, and together we give the assurance of dedicated service".