Cara Cowan Watts
Tribal Councilor appointed to EPA committee
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts has been selected to serve on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee. Her term began on Nov. 15 and will run until Nov. 30, 2014.
The LGAC provides advice and recommendations that assist the EPA in developing stronger partnerships with local governments through building state and local capacity to deliver environmental services and programs. Its ultimate goal is to provide the citizens with more efficient and effective environmental protection at the community, state and federal level.
In a letter to Cowan Watts, the EPA stated her “experience and perspective are particularly valuable to the agency” as it explores ways in which national policy might affect state and local governments.
“I accepted the nomination as it is an honor to be considered and incredibly important work on behalf of Indian Country and the Cherokee Nation,” Cowan Watts of Claremore said. “I want to raise awareness about the work being done in Indian Country and still needing to be done in Indian Country concerning our environment. Federal regulations impact on governments and specifically more localized governments such as tribes seems to be the main focus.”
The LGAC is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and has been in existence since 1993. It is comprised primarily of elected and appointed local officials, along with several state representatives, environmental interest groups and labor interests. Committee members come from various regions around the country.
She said the committee is scheduled to meet every three to four months across the United States, but meets primarily in Washington, D.C.
“I believe my appointment will help the Cherokee people. As we continue to exercise our governmental obligations to protect our environment such as water and air quality, we are obligated to uphold the federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act same as the states around us,” she said.
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. – ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᎦᎳᏫᎦ Cara Cowan Watts ᎠᎦᏑᏰᏓ ᏧᏍᏕᎸᎯᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory ᎠᏂᎧᎻᏗ. ᏛᎴᏅᎯ ᏅᏓᏕᏆ ᏍᎩᎦᏚᏏᏁ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎳᏚ ᎠᎴ ᏅᏓᏕᏆ ᏦᏍᎪᎯᏁ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ.
ᎾᎿ LGAC ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᏧᏃᏎᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎸᏉᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ EPA ᎤᏙᏢᏗ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᏗᎵᎪᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᎥᎢ ᎠᏂᏩᏥᏂ ᎤᎦᏛᎴᎯᏍᏗ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎥᎢ ᎢᎦ ᏭᏂᏲᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᎴᏅᏗᎢ ᎾᎥ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏙᏢᏗᎢ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏍᏙᏗ ᎬᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ. ᏧᏄᎪᏔᏅ ᏧᏂᏍᏕᎸᎯᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎤᎪᏛ ᏓᏤᎸ ᎢᎬᏩᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎥ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᎾᎥ ᏄᎾᏓᎴᏫᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ, ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏩᏥᏂ ᎢᏗᎦᎦᎢ.
ᎪᏪᎵ ᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᎤᏁᏍᏗ Cowan Watts, ᎾᏍᎩ EPA ᎤᏬᏎᎲ “ᎾᏛᏁᎸ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎦᏙᎲᏒ ᎯᎠ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗᏯ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ” ᎤᏂᏲᎲ ᎢᏳᏓᎴ ᎢᎬᏛᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏕᎸᏗ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎥᎢ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᏩᏥᏂ.
“ᏕᎦᏓᏂᎸᎦ ᎯᎠ ᎬᏆᏑᏰᏒᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎬᎩᎪᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᏚᏂᏚᎲ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Cowan Watts ᎦᎴᎻᎢ ᎡᎯ. “ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏙᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ Ꮟ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎧᏂᎬᎬ ᎢᏯᏛᏗ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᏁᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎾᎥ ᏂᎦᏓᎴᏫᏒᎢ. ᏩᏥᏂ ᏧᎧᎾᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᎠᏍᏓᏲᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎢᏯᏛᏓ ᎣᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᎧᎵ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏍᎪᎵᏗᏍᏛᎢ.”
ᎾᏍᎩ LGAC ᎤᏓᏂᏴᏓ ᎭᏫᎾᏓᏝ ᏩᏥᏂ ᏗᎾᏎᎮᎵᏙ ᎠᏂᎧᎻᏗ Act ᎠᎴ ᎬᏃᏓ ᏂᏓᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏐᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏢ ᏐᏁᎳᏍᎪ ᏦᎢ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ. ᎯᎢᏃ ᎠᏑᏰᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏑᏰᏛ ᎡᏍᎦᏅ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᏂᏙᎾᎢ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ, ᎤᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᏂᏁᏥᏙ, ᎾᎥ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᎤᏂᏱᎸᎭ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎦ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎢᏳᏅᎾ. ᎠᏂᎧᎻᏓ ᎠᏁᎳ ᏂᏙᏓᏳᏂᎶᏒ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏫᏚᏳᏣᎳᎩᏛ ᏂᏙᏓᏳᏂᎶᏒᎢ,
ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎧᎻᏗ ᎠᏎᎸ ᏧᎾᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᏦᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏅᎩ ᎢᏯᏅᏓ ᎢᏳᏓᎵ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᏧᎾᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏩᏒᏓᏃᎢ, D.C.
“ᎠᏉᎯᏳ ᎾᎿ ᎥᏆᏑᏰᏒ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ. ᎢᏓᎢᏒ ᏂᏓᏛᏁᎲ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎥᏆᎨᏅᏛ ᏥᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎢᏕᎲ ᎤᎳᏗᏢ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎠᎹ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏃᎴ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ, ᎣᎦᏚᏓᎸᎾ ᎢᏲᎦᏛᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏩᏥᏂ ᎤᏓᏅᎦᎸᏓ ᎠᎹ Act ᎠᎴ ᎤᏓᏅᎦᎸᏓ ᎤᏃᎴ Act ᏧᏠᏯ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᎳᏗᏢᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. May 11, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong>
• A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE LOCATION OF THE 2015 ELECTION POLLING PLACES
Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Hargis seconded the motion. The motion carried with no opposition.
• A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE PROPOSED CHANGES MADE BY THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS TO STRENGTHEN THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT OF 1978
Councilor Thornton raised question regarding the polling places and a location missing from the list in Sallisaw. Speaker Glory Jordan requested to revisit this item at the end of this meeting and allow time for the Election Commissioner to check on the location in question.
Councilor Hargis moved to approve. Councilor Thornton seconded the motion. The motion carried with no opposition.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_May11TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the May 11, 2015 Tribal Council meeting minutes.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. May 28, 2015 Special Tribal Council meeting called by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Councilors discussed:</strong>
•A LEGISLATIVE ACT RELATING TO AND APPROVING A COMPACT TO BE KNOWN AS THE "HUNTING AND FISHING COMPACT BETWEEN THE CHEROKEE NATION AND THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA"
Councilor Vazquez moved to approve. Councilor Hargis seconded the motion. Speaker Glory Jordan stated lengthy discussion was just held on this item in committee and requested those comments stand.
Councilor Hargis called for the question. Councilor Snell seconded the motion. The motion carried with the following roll call vote:
??Council of the Cherokee Nation
?Yea: 10 - Dick Lay;Jodie Fishinghawk;Janelle Fullbright;Tina Glory Jordan;Joe Byrd;David Thornton, Sr. ;Frankie Hargis ;Curtis Snell;Janees Taylor and Victoria Vazquez
Nay: 5 - Lee Keener Jr.;Cara Cowan Watts;Don Garvin;Harley Buzzard and Jack D. Baker
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_May28TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the May 28, 2015 Special Tribal Council meeting minutes.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. April 13, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong>
• AN ACT AMENDING LEGISLATIVE ACT #25-14 AUTHORIZING THE COMPREHENSIVE OPERATING BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2015 - MOD. 9; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Councilor Taylor moved to approve. Councilor Cowan Watts seconded the motion. The motion carried by acclimation.
• A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SUBMISSION OF A SPECIAL GRANT APPLICATION FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, OFFICE OF INDIAN ENERGY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (IEED), ENERGY AND MINERALS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Thornton seconded the motion. The motion carried.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_June15TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the June 15, 2015 Tribal Council meeting minutes.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court on July 8 granted a new election in the Dist. 14 Tribal Council race between William “Bill” Pearson and Keith Austin.
The verbal ruling followed several hours of testimony in the appeal that Austin filed after losing the general election on June 27 by one vote and a recount on July 2 by six votes.
The court ordered the tribe’s Election Commission to hold the new election as soon as possible but didn’t specify if that would be during the July 25 runoff.
As of publication, EC officials said they had no comment as to when they would conduct the new election.
The court did not issue a written opinion when it announced its decision, but justices said they would release one within the statutorily mandated timeframe.
Austin filed the appeal on July 6 alleging that ballots were cast that should not have been accepted, ballots were cast that should have been accepted and two absentee ballot envelopes could not be found.
“There is one challenged ballot that was rejected that should have been accepted; there are eight voters who live outside of Dist. 14 who are incorrectly registered to vote in Dist. 14 who voted; there are two voters who voted by absentee who ballots were rejected that should have been accepted; there is one voter whose absentee ballot was accepted, but the commission cannot locate his affidavit envelope and there are two absentee voters who the commission has not given voter credit to,” the appeal states. “For the forgoing reasons, it is apparent that the results of this election cannot be determined with mathematical certainty and Petitioner Austin requests that the Court order a new election.”
Austin said this election was just too close to accurately discern what the will of the people was.
"That is why the Supreme Court, after examining all the evidence, decided that our best course of action is to hold another election in Tribal Council District 14 and give the people another chance to make their voice heard," he added.
Pearson said, “my opinion is to go forward and try to increase the margin (of victory).”
Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for further developments.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified recount results, Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer are still the top two vote-getters who will face each other in the July 25 runoff for the At-Large Tribal Council seat.
Following the June 27 general election, Election Commission officials posted results showing Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent of the ballots cast at 1,057 votes. Swimmer was second with 18.9 percent or 770 votes.
Following the July 2 recount, Hatfield continued to lead with 1,057 votes, but Swimmer lost seven votes to finish with 763.
The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to learn what happened to the seven votes, but as of press time EC officials were unavailable for comment.
Swimmer said she was confident the EC had valid numbers.
“So I’m pleased that it came out like it did,” she said. “I’m pressing forward and I plan to win the election.”
Hatfield said the top three finishers remained the same with the recount and congratulated Swimmer on being in the runoff.
“It has been a great experience and the next three weeks will be extremely busy reaching out to the At-Large Cherokee citizens,” she added.
Candidate Shane Jett, who requested the recount, received 717 votes in the general election, but saw his vote count lowered to 713 in the recount.
Jett said with the 2015 election being his first venture into Cherokee politics it was a learning experience, especially the importance of voters ensuring they cast their ballots correctly.
“They (EC) had to throw away over 350 absentee ballots because they either did not sign them, notarize them or fill them out properly. So those votes were never counted,” he said. “It’s important that people slow down and make sure their vote counts. I hope everyone gets out and votes for their candidate of choice because their (Cherokee) Nation is worth it.”
The EC performed the recount with CN Supreme Court justices present before certifying the results.
Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25.
All successful candidates are to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the CN election timeline.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified results from a July 2 recount, William “Bill” Pearson has beaten Keith Austin by six votes to win the Dist. 14 Tribal Council seat.
Original certified results from the June 27 general election showed Pearson receiving 534 votes for 50.5 percent of the ballots cast, while Austin garnered 533 votes for 49.95 percent.
Austin filed for a recount, which the tribe’s Election Commission performed. After that recount, Pearson had 525 votes for 50.2 percent compared to Austin’s 519 votes at 49.7 percent.
The votes tabulated during the recount consisted of precinct, absentee, early absentee and precinct challenged.
The recount had 23 votes less compared to the original count. EC officials said that occurred because of human error when inputting votes.
“The challenged ballots from the districts were processed on Sunday (June 28) beginning at ”1 p.m. through 12:11 a.m. on Monday and resulted in 349 out of approximately 700 challenged ballots being accepted,” an EC statement reads. “The 349 ballots were then fed through a voting machine that was pre-defined for absentees, to get the vote count for the various races and candidates. The card from the machine was then placed in the computer to print out the challenged vote results. And unbeknownst to the operator it recorded the ballots as absentee votes then the operator took the printout of challenged ballots and manually entered them for the appropriate race and candidate, resulting in the 349 votes being entered twice.”
The EC statement also reads that once this was discovered, those votes entered into the machine under absentee were removed. The challenged votes that were correctly placed in districts remained in those districts.
“Resulting in the 349 being correctly counted,” the release stated.
The Cherokee Phoenix contacted Pearson but he was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
In an email statement, Austin did not state whether he would appeal the recount results to the Supreme Court but that he appreciated the EC’s hard work.
“They have the impossible job of determining a certifiable winner in a race that could not be closer,” Austin wrote. “Obviously, we want to work with the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to help determine that the election results are accurate. Cherokees took the time to vote because they have faith in our Nation. We owe it to them to ensure their intentions are honored and their votes count.”
The EC certified the recount on July 2 in the presence of Supreme Court justices.
Candidates have until July 6 to appeal election results with the Supreme Court. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court would hear those cases July 7-9.
Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9410_ExplanationofRecalculationofVoteCount.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the Explanation of Recalculation of Vote Count document.
TAHLEQUAH, Oka. – Shawn Crittenden defeated Corey Bunch for the Cherokee Nation’s District 8 Tribal Council seat in the June 27 general election.
Crittenden won by a vote count of 486-307, according to certified results of the district’s three precincts. Those results showed Crittenden receiving 61.29 percent of the 793 ballots cast to Bunch’s 38.71 percent.
“I’m mainly humbled and thankful for the folks in my district,” Crittenden said. “I had a lot of support and I thank the good Lord for the good feeling I have right now. I’m ready to get down to business with the people in my district. My plans are to be accessible and to stay on top of issues when folks need something, when they want to be heard. I want to do everything I can to show them I care and I’m going to work hard for them.”
Bunch conceded the race in a Facebook post around midnight on June 28.
“I want to congratulate Shawn Crittenden on winning the district 8 council seat. He ran a good and clean campaign and deserves the victory,” Bunch wrote. “I called and told him that I’m behind him 100% and that I would ask everyone else to do the same. I also want to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who showed such kindness to me and my family for the past several months.”
Dist. 8 covers the eastern part of Adair County, as well as much of its northern border.
Crittenden is expected to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, the tribe’s inauguration day. The EC certified the results at 10:30 a.m. on June 29.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified results, At-Large Tribal Council candidates Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer will face each other in the July 25 runoff.
Election Commission officials posted results showing Wanda Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent or 1,057 votes, while Betsy Swimmer was second with 18.9 or 770 votes.
“We’re very excited about it,” Hatfield said. “We’re already planning what we’re going to do next.”
Hatfield, from Oklahoma City, said the At-Large race was clean, respectful and all online comments were kind and professional.
“It was a race that I feel like there were 10 very qualified candidates, and I think we all worked very hard,” she said.
Swimmer, of Broken Arrow, said she felt privileged the Cherokee people have confidence in her.
“I will work very, very hard to make sure that they have proper representation,” she said. “We had some really wonderful candidates running, so with that in mind I certainly feel like it’s a great honor to have been selected.”
According to the certified results, the vote breakdown for the remaining At-Large candidates were:
• Shane Jett with 17.6 percent or 717 votes,
• Deborah Reed with 7.98 percent or 325 votes,
• Tommy Jones with 6.82 percent or 278 votes,
• Pamela Fox with 6.06 percent or 247 votes,
• Benjamin McKee with 6.06 percent or 247 votes,
• Linda Leaf-Bolin with 4.71 percent or 192 votes,
• Darell R. Matlock Jr. with 4 percent or 163 votes, and
• Trey Brown with 1.94 percent or 79 votes.
The EC met on June 29 to certify the general election results.
Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25.
All successful candidates are set to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the Cherokee Nation’s election timeline.