EC official tells employees not to take abuse from public
A Cherokee Nation Election Commission official has urged EC employees not to take verbal abuse from callers or in-person visitors. The EC has also banned cell phones and recording devices from its building during courtroom-style hearings. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – A Cherokee Nation Election Commission official thanked employees for their “kindness and respect” to callers and visitors, then urged them not to take verbal abuse this election season.
“I’ve been here several hours, several days and I know that you have taken verbal abuse,” Election Commissioner Carolyn Allen told the staff during a May 10 special meeting. “I know that you have been cussed at. I know that some of the things have even been in the form of harassment. I will not take that, and I don’t expect our staff to take that.”
Allen added that she would “be hanging up on” callers who exhibit abusive behavior, then urged EC employees to do the same.
“I won’t take that as a citizen,” she said. “I won’t take that as a commissioner. So I’m asking you that if you are in those situations, that you have permission to ask them to please be considerate and stop that behavior.”
Allen also apologized “on behalf of those citizens and candidates that have treated you that way.”
“If people are being that demanding and want to seek their legal counsel, they know where the courthouse is,” she said. “If they continue and treat our staff and our commission that way, then I may come before the commission and ask us to take legal action against some citizens and candidates.”
Commissioners have held several special meetings and hearings this election season to address complaints against candidates. They plan to hold a hearing at 9 a.m. on May 16 to consider allegations against Dist. 8 candidate Jodie Fishinghawk. They also plan to hold a 9 a.m. hearing on May 17 for complaints lodged against principal chief candidate David Walkingstick.
Seating capacity inside the EC conference room, already “fairly low,” according to EC Administrator Marcus Fears, will be further impacted by the need for a court reporter and space for attorneys during the hearings.
“The (CN) marshals will police those numbers,” Fears said. “There is room in the lobby area to stand and anybody can stand outside and hang out.”
Tribal authorities are present at EC meetings and hearings.
“We’ll definitely have security,” Fears said of Walkingstick’s hearing. “We’ll have security outside and inside.”
EC officials also said cell phones and recording devices will be banned from the building during the courtroom-style hearings.