Stephenson King is a Saint Lucian politician and former Prime Minister. He represents the constituency of Castries North as an Independent in the House of Assembly of Saint Lucia. He is currently serving as Senior Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Transport, Physical Development, and Urban Renewal.
Early life and education
Stephenson King is the son of Grafton King; a renowned seaman, from Canouan, St.Vincent and Marie Bernadette Satney, a seamstress from the village of Choiseul. His early infant and primary education was attained at the Methodist Infant and Primary Schools. Later he gained entry into the Seventh Day Adventist Academy, where he pursued his secondary level studies. Following the completion of his secondary education, King gained employment at the former St. Lucia Co-operative Bank Ltd (now 1st National Bank St. Lucia Ltd), where he served for two and a half years. He resigned in 1981 to accept an offer from the law firm of Floissac and Giraudy, where he served for seven years as Accountant, Trade Marks Clerk/Paralegal.
In 1981 following the inaugural youth conference of the United Workers Party, King was elected the President of the Party’s Youth Arm. In 1982 after having actively participated in the election campaign of that year he was appointed a City Councilor of the Castries City Council and a Board Member of the St. Lucia Housing Authority, serving in both capacities for 5 years. During that period he also formed and became the founding President of the Rotaract Club of Saint Lucia, resigning in 1987 when he entered elective politics.
Stephenson entered the political fray on the island when he was nominated as the candidate for the Castries North-East Constituency. In the first election on 6 April 1987 he got 2,411 votes against former Prime Minister Michael Pilgrim of the St Lucia Labour Party 1772 and Oswald Augustin of the Progressive Labour Party received 846 votes. In the second election on April 30, 1987 he polled 2,731 votes to Pilgrim’s 2,549 votes and Augustin’s 375 votes. He was then appointed as a Cabinet Minister, serving as the Minister for Community Development, Social Affairs, Youth, Sports, and local Government.
He faced the electorate again in 1992 against lawyer Wilkie Larcher of the St Lucia Labour Party. He was able to register a bigger victory this time polling 3,511 to Larcher’s 2,009. Following the election he was appointed to the Cabinet as the Minister for Health, Local Government, Information and Broadcasting.
He would succumb in the tumultuous defeat of the United Worker’s Party in the 1997 election where he was defeated by George Odlum on a St Lucia Labour Party ticket. The results of the election show Odlum overcoming the incumbent 3960 to 2604, the lowest number of votes King would ever gain in an election. He took a nine year sabbatical from elective politic although remaining Chairman of the party for most of this period.
Following a short-lived struggle between himself and Cybelle Cenac for that right King received the endorsement of the United Workers Party in 2006 to contest the General Elections as the Candidate for Castries North. He would defeat the sitting Minister of Agriculture at the polls, which also saw his United Worker’s Party return to office.
When the UWP was in the throes of its leadership contest between its two former leaders, Vaughan Lewis and Sir John Compton, King, the party’s Chairman, was seen as Lewis’ last big supporter in the party. However he did not follow Lewis into the St Lucia Labour Party on Lewis’ loss of the party leadership. When the UWP won a majority of seats in this election, and a new government under Compton was sworn in on 19 December 2006, King became Minister for Health and Labour Relations.
After Compton fell ill in May 2007, King became Acting Prime Minister. In a cabinet reshuffle in early June 2007, he became Minister of Finance (including International Financial Services), External Affairs, Home Affairs, National Security, Labor, Information and Broadcasting. It was an ironic twist that King would assume the mantle when the Deputy of the party was overlooked as just a few months before King had been seen as a Lewis loyalist in the party’s leadership race. Compton died on 7 September 2007, and King was subsequently sworn in as Prime Minister by Governor-General Pearlette Louisy on 9 September 2007.
King reshuffled the cabinet on 12 September. In addition to Prime Ministership, he assumed the roles of External Affairs, Home Affairs and National Security. King also held the modified portfolio of Minister of Finance (including International Financial Services), Economic Affairs, Economic Planning and National Development.
Earlier in 2008 Prime Minister King came under pressure, first from opposition leader Dr. Kenny Anthony and then from his own parliamentary wing, to dismiss Economic Planning Minister Ausbert D’Auvergne. He eventually acquiesced and returned Choiseul representative Rufus Bousquet to his cabinet, defusing the impasse. King also dismissed the representative of Central Castries and Minister of Housing Richard Frederick from cabinet in 2011, following a scandal created by the revocation of his visitors and diplomatic visas by the United States Government.
The King administration suffered defeat in the 2011 general elections on 28 November 2011, obtaining only 6 out of 17 seats in Parliament.
On 14 June 2016, King was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, following the victory of the UWP in the 6 June 2016 general elections.
Parliament Office, Government Buildings, Castries