Then the final ballots were tallied on Election Day, February 15, 2010, Palmavon “Pam” Webster had lost by 170 votes in a close race for the District 1 seat. Now, five years later, she’s back for round two. For the Island Harbour-born lawyer, that first foray into politics came after much soul searching. “I was disheartened with how the social agenda—the expectation of equality of opportunity for everybody—had been somewhat forgotten,” she explains.
Standing as an independent this time around, she feels free to address her constituents’ problems in ways she thinks are more appropriate. “I am talking about the things that they care about,” she says. “And they say, ’We care about our children. We care about the future.’”
Pam’s early years were marked by the absence of her mother, who fell ill a few months after she was born. When she left to St. Kitts and Nevis for treatment, an infant Pam remained in the care of her aunt Lambertine “Lambie” Webster. Lambie’s influence would prove life-defining. “I believe my purpose is to serve others, just like my aunt did. She was an amazing woman. She served the children. She served the church. She served the community.”
In 2009, Pam helped found the Island Harbour Care Centre, dedicating it to the memory of her aunt, who had cared not just for her, but for many other children in their community.
…women have been holding up society forever… They are ready to lead and can’t help how they do it—bringing everyone with them.
It took a village to raise Pam: support and guidance came from members of her community, her teachers, notably, Vivien Vanterpool [after whom the primary school in Island Harbour is named]. “They took responsibility for me and for what my future would be. There were times when there wasn’t food in the house, but there would have been four other houses that would have cooked for me.”
After high school, Pam left the island to study law on a government scholarship before returning in 1986. In the years since, she has taken pride in helping develop the island’s nascent financial services sector. “I love working with other people. I’m passionate about the value of inclusion,” she adds.
“Father of the Nation, Ronald Webster, had a powerful vision of an island with opportunity and prosperity for all,” she says. “I am the perfect example of someone who, without opportunity, would never have become the person or the professional that I am. I want to make sure that the same opportunity is available to everybody else.”
To accomplish this, Pam must first overturn a 30-year absence of women from elected office. She thinks it’s the right time. She points out, “[District 1] is always open to change, it’s in our DNA. I think women have been contributing and holding up the society forever.” Flashing her trademark broad smile, she concludes, “Our women are competent, qualified and educated. They are ready to lead and they can’t help how they do it—bringing everyone with them.”