TAHLEQUAH – Dist. 10 Tribal Council hopefuls Shaunda Handle-Davis, of Jay, and Melvina Shotpouch, of Eucha, received the most votes in their six-candidate race, placing them on course for a runoff election in July.

The ultimate winner will take over for Harley Buzzard, who is terming out. Dist. 10 includes Ottawa County and portions of Mayes and Delaware counties. The runoff election will be held July 24.

“We just have to reach out to more voters,” Shotpouch said.

According to election night figures from the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, Handle-Davis received 289 votes (36.17%) while Shotpouch took 280 (35.04%).

“I’ve served on the Tribal Council three terms,” Shotpouch said. “The last time I was on the Council was in 2007. But I know what it takes and I know what it’s about. I’m retired now and I can be a full-time councilor. I feel like I can contribute a whole lot more than I did before.”

Handle-Davis, who was unavailable for comment on election night, previously said she chose to run “because I have seen the needs of the Cherokee people first hand, especially during this past year.”

“I began helping with food distributions during spring break of 2020, and I was able to continue through Christmas,” she wrote for a Cherokee Phoenix questionnaire. “During this time, I was able to work with the people on a daily basis and see the struggles that are a reality for so many in our Nation, from the lack of basic necessities to dilapidated living conditions. It was during this time that I had multiple Cherokees encourage me to run for Council.”

The other candidates were John Ann Masters Thompson, of Grove, with 199 votes (24.9%); Darrel Hicks, of Eucha, with 13 votes (1.62%); Cody Williams, of Miami, Oklahoma, with 13 votes (1.62%); and Dennis Ackley, of Salina, with five votes (0.6%).

The election night vote tallies were unofficial. The EC is expected to certify the vote count from June 5 election on June 7.

Dist. 10 was divided into six precincts – Salina, Jay, Grove, Afton, Spavinaw and Pryor. According to the EC, there were a total of 799 votes and 47 challenged ballots.