#ElectionJa – Know Your Constituency: St James North Western

When Jamaica had its first general election on December 14, 1944, the parish of St James had two constituencies – St James North Western and South Eastern.

The constituency of St James North Western is bounded by the following: From a point on the seacoast at Running Gut opposite to the junction of parochial road No 9 Rose Hall, and the main road, then southerly along parochial road No 34 Rose Hall, to the northern boundary of Flower Hill. It then goes south-westerly along this boundary to where it meets Flower Hill Avenue (parochial road No 8), southerly along Flower Hill Avenue to the Flower Hill main road (parochial road No 13B).

It then travels westerly along this main road to a track leading to Hartfield property opposite to the Salt Spring School, then northerly along this track to where it meets parochial road No 10, St. James. From there it goes south westerly along this parochial road to where it meets Salt Spring main road, westerly along this main road to where it meets Green Pond main road, and easterly along the Green Pond main road to the eastern boundary of Farm Pen.

It then travels southerly along the eastern boundary of Farm Pen to the northern boundary of Catherine Hall Pen, westerly along the northern boundary of Catherine Hall Pen to the eastern Montego Bay boundary, south westerly along this boundary and then westerly in an imaginary line to Clarke Street. From there it goes along Clarke Street to the Mount Salem main road, westerly along this main road to Cottage Road, along Cottage Road to Barnett Street, along Barnett Street to Fustic Road, along Fustic Road to the railway line, along the railway line to the Barnett River, along Barnett River to the sea, and northerly along the seacoast to the starting point at Running Gut.

Of the 15 contested Parliamentary General Elections in St James North Western, the People’s National Party (PNP) has won 10 times to five for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Iris Collins (JLP) became the first female member of the House of Representatives when she won the seat in 1944, defeating Walter Fletcher from the Jamaica Democratic Party (JDP) and four independent candidates: Allan George St Claver Coombs, Charles E Agate, William Aubrey Green-Spence and Howard Grosset. She was defeated in the 1949 polls by Coombs, who had joined the PNP. Coombs retained the seat until 1962, when the JLP took another hold on the seat through Herbert W Eldemire. He had been replaced as the PNP candidate by one Howard Felix Cooke, future Governor General of Jamaica, and ran as an independent.

Cooke claimed the seat in 1967, defeating the JLP’s Donat G Crichton 4,654 votes to 3,003. He won the next three elections by convincing margins, before losing the constituency in the uncontested 1983 election. The party reclaimed the seat in 1989 and held it until 2002, when current MP, the JLP’s Dr Horace Chang defeated Gordon Phillpots Brown 9,654 votes to 7,004. He won his third term in 2011, defeating Henry George McCurdy 6,077 votes to 4,977.

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