Sam secures Dist. 7 seat in runoff race

Joshua Sam

STILWELL – According to July 24 runoff election results, Joshua Sam won the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 7 Tribal Council seat that represents the western side of Adair County, including Stilwell.

In his showdown with David Comingdeer, the total vote was 638-594 in Sam’s favor, according to unofficial results from the CN Election Commission. Percentage-wise, the vote was 51.79% to 48.21%.

Sam was unavailable for comment after the final results were posted, but noted in a Cherokee Phoenix candidate questionnaire that serving on the Tribal Council “has always been a dream” of his.

“Growing up in Adair County, I have always found myself in a role that serves our communities,” he wrote. “I am happiest when I’m helping others in our communities. My heart has always been here and it strives to serve for a stronger Cherokee people.”

Within the four Dist. 7 precincts, Sam received 209 votes, while Comingdeer secured 316. Early walk-in votes had Sam with 30 and Comingdeer with 39. But it was absentee ballots that made the difference. Sam’s total was 399 and Comingdeer’s was 239, according to figures released by the EC.

Race results were uncertain until early the next day when the EC posted results of 35 “challenged” ballots cast by voters whose names were not found in the precinct signature books or who disagreed with information shown in the books.

“That could make it close,” Sam said on election night while waiting for results.

In the end, Sam secured the bulk of the challenged votes.

He will be sworn in next month, replacing current Dist. 7 Councilor Canaan Duncan, who did not file for re-election.

In the June 5 general election, Sam received 497 votes for 49.31% while Comingdeer, of Spade Mountain, garnered 450 for 44.64%, but neither met the required 50% threshold to win outright. A third candidate, Gena Kirk, of Stilwell, received 61 votes, or 6.05%.

Comingdeer was unavailable for comment. In the candidate questionnaire, he said he ran “as a logical next step to serve my tribe, district and community.”

“Everything in my life has prepared me to represent District 7,” he wrote. “My history of service includes 25 years of tribal employment and 30 continuous years of service to our cultural communities.”

Results of the runoff race are not official until certified by the EC. All winning candidates are expected to be sworn in on Aug. 14.