36 file for Cherokee Nation government seats
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission office in Tahlequah is seen Feb. 8. A total of 36 candidates filed for seats in the upcoming general election. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation general election is June 1, and 36 candidates have filed to run for leadership positions up for grabs in the tribe’s executive and legislative branches.
Open this year are the top two spots, principal chief and deputy principal chief, in which the current seat-holders have reached their two-term limits. CN citizens from all districts and at-large are eligible to cast votes for those positions.
Following the four-day filing period, four men and women filed to replace the outgoing chief, Bill John Baker. They include former Secretary of State Charles “Chuck” Hoskin Jr., who resigned from his post on Feb. 6 to file; Dist. 3 Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick; Cherokee Freedmen descendant Rhonda Brown-Fleming; and Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay. The council terms of Walkingstick and Lay will reach their limits this year.
According to the CN Constitution, principal chief and deputy chief candidates are required to live within the Nation’s jurisdiction.
“That is one of the special requirements,” Elections Director Connie Parnell said.
The deputy chief seat attracted three candidates — Dist. 6 Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner, Linda Sacks and former Tribal Councilor Meredith Frailey. The winner will replace S. Joe Crittenden.
Tribal Council seats open this year are districts 1, 3, 6, 8, 12, 13, 14 and one at-large. As some councilors term out, previous councilors are hoping to return.
“We have three that were termed out in 2015 that are now running this time,” Parnell said.
In Dist. 1, incumbent Rex Jordan filed along with Ryan Sierra and Randy Dirteater.
Dist. 3’s crowded field consists of Larry Pritchett, R.J. Robbins, Wes Nofire, Billy Flint, Brandon Girty, Jim Cosby and Debra Proctor.
Filing for the Dist. 6 seat were Ron Goff, Daryl Legg and Gary Trad Lattimore.
Dist. 8 incumbent Shawn Crittenden filed along with former Tribal Councilors Jodie Fishinghawk and Ralph Keen II.
The open seat for Dist. 12 attracted Phyllis Lay, Todd Branstetter, Dora Patzkowski and Don Scott.
Dist. 13’s contestants are Joe Deere and incumbent Buel Anglen.
In Dist. 14, incumbent Keith Austin and former Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts filed.
In another crowded field for the at-large position, filers consisted of John Jack Kidwell, former Tribal Councilor Julia Coates, Steve Adair, Pamela Fox and incumbent Wanda Hatfield.
Other candidates or CN citizens registered to vote can contest a candidate’s eligibility through Feb. 14, EC officials said.
Election candidates cannot be employed by the CN or any of its entities, according to tribal law. Two candidates, Hoskin and Proctor, were employed by the Nation prior to filing.
“We have a copy of their resignation letters,” Parnell said. “They meet the requirements of resigning.”
Non-refundable costs to file were $2,500 for principal chief, $2,000 for deputy chief and $500 for council seats.
Any runoff elections will be held July 27. Winners will be sworn in Aug. 14.