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Cherokee Nation runoff election set for tomorrow
7/22/2011 9:56:18 AM
By STAFF REPORTS
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow so that citizens can determine the tribe’s next deputy chief and three Tribal Councilors for the 2011-15 term.
Vying for the deputy chief post are Tribal Councilors S. Joe Crittenden, of Stilwell, and Chris Soap, of Pryor. According to official general election results, Soap earned 46.5 percent of the deputy chief votes on June 25, with Crittenden taking 36.4 percent.
Tribal election law states that the top two candidates of a race shall face each other when no candidate gains a simple majority of the votes, comprised of more than 50 percent of the total votes cast for that race.
In the race to become the first councilor for Dist. 1, Seat 3 are David Walkingstick and Mark Vance, both of Tahlequah. According to general election results, Walkingstick garnered 36.2 percent of the votes for that seat on June 25, while Vance earned 17.7 percent.
The 2011-15 term will be the first term for that council seat. Earlier this year, the council approved a law that drops the number of representative districts within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction from nine to five. Each district now has three councilors in it.
Vying for the first Dist 2, Seat 3 term are Tribal Councilors Jodie Fishinghawk, of Stilwell, and Harley L. Buzzard of Eucha. In the general election, Fishinghawk received 44.7 percent of the vote, while Buzzard got 21.5 percent.
And racing for Seat 2 in Dist. 4 are Tribal Councilor Bradley Cobb, of Bartlesville, and CN citizen Dick Lay, of Ochelata. Cobb earned 33.1 percent of the vote in the general election, while Lay earned 29.8 percent.
Crittenden certified as deputy chief-elect
7/24/2011 3:05:59 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilor S. Joe Crittenden has been certified the deputy chief-elect of the Cherokee Nation after defeating fellow Councilor Chris Soap in the tribe’s July 23 runoff election.
The CN Election Commission certified elections results around 10:30 a.m. the morning after the runoff vote. Along with Crittenden, the EC also certified three council races with David Walkingstick winning Dist. 1, Seat 3 and Jodie Fishinghawk winning Dist. 2, Seat 3. Dick Lay won Seat 2 in Dist. 4.
Only three of the four commissioners were present to certify the election: Patsy Eads-Morton, Brenda Walker and Curtis L. Rohr. Commissioner Martha Calico was absent.
Normally, the EC is comprised of five commissioners. However, EC Chairman Roger Johnson resigned on July 5.
Crittenden and his supporters gathered early around the Election Services Office on July 24. Some of them, including Crittenden, camped at the office after the runoff election because the EC refused to certify the results until that morning.
Commissioners announced they would return at 9 a.m. to certify the election, which was met by protests from Crittenden supporters waiting for the certification. The commissioners left the office under CN marshal and security escort and would not comment on why they didn’t certify the results immediately following the election.
“It was about 1 o’clock when we found out they weren’t going to certify it. Everyone was wound up and excited, and it was hard for people to just go home and go to bed,” Crittenden said. “The Election Commission had a tough job. We just went through a mess a month or so ago (June 25 general election), and people are watching. I felt like it (certification) would happen. The people spoke and there was a clear margin of victory.”
The certified results show Crittenden, who is currently serving as Tribal Councilor for Dist. 2, received 6,478 votes, or 53.17 percent of the votes, to Soap’s 5,706 votes or 46.83 percent.
Soap, who will be finishing his first council term on Aug. 14, congratulated Crittenden on his victory, saying “it looks like the voters have chosen a different direction for the Cherokee Nation.”
Crittenden said during his campaign he heard repeatedly from Cherokee people that they were ready for change and that the tribe needs it.
“I think that’s what happened. It’s not so much me as people wanting a change,” Crittenden said. “I hope to be a part of that change for the good.”
In the general election, Soap received 6,993 votes, or 46.5 percent of the vote, while Crittenden received 5,465 votes or 36.4 percent. Because neither candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, tribal election law states that the top two vote-getters must face each other in a runoff.
All elected officials are to be sworn in Aug. 14 in Tahlequah.
However, the other seat in the tribe’s administration is still up for grabs, as a new election for principal chief must be called after the CN Supreme Court threw out the disputed principal chief’s election on July 21. No date has been set for a new election.
Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker is challenging incumbent Chad Smith for the principal chief seat.
If no candidate has been elected as principal chief by Aug. 14 and that seat remains vacant, Crittenden would temporarily take the chief’s post that day until a chief is duly elected, according to the CN attorney general.
Also, a special election will need to be called to determine Crittenden’s replacement on the council.