#JaVotes2016 – Know Your Constituencies: St Ann

St Ann North Eastern

A craft market in Ocho Rios
A craft market in Ocho Rios in the constituency

In 1959, as a result of an advancement in the constitution, 45 constituencies were provided for Jamaica, an increase of 13 over the 32 which had been fixed from 1944. The parish of St Ann – previously divided into Eastern and Western – got two additional constituencies as the boundaries were redrawn and new constituencies were created, namely – St Ann South-Eastern, North-Western, North-Eastern and South-Western.

Geographically, St Ann North Eastern is the smallest constituency in the parish, but in terms of electors it is the largest. Since the seat was created in 1959, the People’s National Party (PNP) has won eight of the 12 times while the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has won it four times.

The first Member of Parliament (MP) was the PNP’s Edwin Tucker, who defeated SA Lambie (JLP) 6,570 votes to 3,272. Tucker retained the seat in 1962, again defeating Lambie (JLP) and Sedley Johns (Marcus Garvey’s People’s Political Party). In 1967, the PNP won again, with Wills O Isaacs defeating Pat Burke (JLP). Isaacs won again in 1972, beating Alwyn Tai (JLP). In 1976, Vivian Blake increased the majority for the PNP, ahead of Robert Marsh of the JLP. The JLP’s first taste of victory came in 1980, when Marsh defeated Vinroy Brown (PNP) 9,979 to 6,941. Marsh was returned by proclamation after the PNP refused to contest the 1983 election.

In 1989, Manley Bowen returned the seat to the PNP, defeating Patricia Pink (JLP) 9,532 to 6,227. He retained the seat in 1993 over Robert McFarlane (JLP), before making way for fellow Comrade Danny Melville in 1997. Melville defeated Michael Belnavis (JLP) and Osmond Tomlinson (National Democratic Movement) 9,150 to 7,062 and 518, respectively. The seat returned to the JLP in a by-election in 2001 when Shahine Robinson defeated the PNP’s Carol Jackson. In the 2002 election, Robinson polled 11,155 to defeat Carrol Jackson, Janice Campbell (NDM) and Camara Nkrumah (United People’s Party), who polled 9,981, 31 and 29, respectively.

North East St Ann is an important contributor to the national economy, being home to Ocho Rios, Jamaica’s second leading tourism town. The main towns in the constituency are the parish capital, St Ann’s Bay, and Ocho Rios, with other major communities including Exchange, Steer Town, Priory and Lime Hall.