“I THOUGHT I was good at speaking to folk and would just give it a try,” is how Davie Paterson describes starting a political career which today marks 25 years’ service.
And now the former amateur Scottish boxing champion has won himself a new title, becoming the longest continually-serving member of the local authority.
The often controversial figure has been slugging away on the local political scene since ousting Provost Jake Irvine from his seat on May 3, 1988. But his election onto the then Roxburgh District Council was not always the game plan. He explained: “A sitting councillor was taking too long to get back to me on a couple of issues, so I told him I would stand at the next election, and I did.” Indeed the Pesco’s hand-knitter, who had made a name for himself in the boxing ring, beat his political opponent by 89 votes, and found himself in a whole new arena.
“I think I got in because I promised I would work hard and wouldn’t tell lies. And I said I’d go round my ward every Sunday,” said the weel-kent West Ender.
A quarter-of-a-century later and Councillor Paterson still dons a shirt and tie every Sunday and knocks on doors round his Hawick & Hermitage ward. He said: “Last week it only took me three-and-a-half hours, but the previous week it was five-and-a-half. I like to dress smartly and chap doors to take up complaints and speak to people.”
But admitting to one change, he joked: “I don’t take as many cups of tea now. There were some weeks I was getting nine and ten cups of tea, but I had to stop that.”
The biggest change Mr Paterson says he has witnessed is the growing lack of respect, stating: “There are people who don’t have the same pride in themselves or the town.”
But recalling happier times on the now beleaguared Stonefield estate, the councillor says its original house-proud residents carpeted the landings. “It was wonderful, and an absolute pleasure to visit back then,” the reminisced.
Working hard for the electorate has always been the Longcroft Crescent resident’s manifesto, which he says led to a parting of ways with the SNP in 2001.
“I had a difference of opinion with them,” Mr Paterson explained. “I always said I wouldn’t let them come between me and my constituents. They said they’d put someone up against me in 2003, and I said ‘do it’. They did, and I beat him.”
His reign did almost come to an abrupt end during the lady rider’s controversy of 1996. “I took the ladies’ side, and I only won by a majority 22 votes”, he stated.
But he conceded: “For the better of my constituents and the people of Hawick I will always speak up. And that’s how I try to work, for the greater good of those I represent.”
And now as the portfolio holder for Enviormental Services in the ruling SBC administration, the father-of-three says the secret of his success is to continue working hard and “not getting big headed”.
And the former pugilist says he will keep fighting for Hawick, and as long he keeps getting voted back in, has no plans to throw in the towel.