By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
A new election ordinance (Ord. No. 408) was passed during a special session of Tribal Council on Dec. 19, 2018. That legislation addressed numerous issues including recounts, referendums, protests and voter irregularities, and more.
Mary “Missy” Crowe, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from the Yellowhill Community, has filed a protest to Ord. No. 408 claiming its passage violated tribal law. In a letter to Tribal Council Chairman Adam Wachacha, she writes, “With a financial interest in the amount of two thousand and fifty dollars ($2,500) as a certified candidate for Tribal Council and Principal Chief in the 2003, 2011, 2015, and 2017 tribal elections as well as considering filing as a candidate in the upcoming 2019 tribal elections, I hereby protest the passing of Ord. No. 408 (2018) Elections…”
At the heart of her protest is Ord. No. 173 (2018) which changed the time frame designating an election year. In her protest, filed on Wednesday, Jan. 9, she states in part, “Ord. No. 173 (2018) was amended and passed on Sept. 6, 2018 to amend to extend the time for amending the tribal election law codified at Cherokee Code Chapter 161. This amendment changed the election year to an election period. ‘An Election Year shall mean October 1 through September 30 of the year of a regular election. Election Period shall mean the period beginning six months immediately before a primary election and extending to the end of the six-month period immediately following the general election. In case of a special election, the election period shall be defined as the period beginning six months immediately before the special election and extending to the end of the six-month period immediately following the special election.’”
Her protest letter continues, “Ord. No. 173 (2018) was submitted and passed on Sept. 6, 2018 and in a non-election year which expired on Sept. 30, 2018. Therefore, the new Election Period would begin in the 2021 Tribal Council Elections.”
She asserts that Ord. No. 408 is “null and void and in violation of Cherokee Code 161-20” and states, “The current non-election year will expire in Sept. 30, 2018 as in the original Ord. No. 173 (2018) Election, passed as amended on Sept. 6, 2018 in the regular September session of Tribal Council.”
Ord. No. 408 (2018) passed by a vote of 8-3 (For: Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell, Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle, Yellowhill Rep. Tom Wahnetah, Vice Chairman David Wolfe, Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose, Wolftown Rep. Jeremy Wilson, Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe, Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke; Against: Big Cove Rep. Richard French, Cherokee Co. – Snowbird Rep. Bucky Brown, Painttown Rep. Lisa Taylor; Absent due to bereavement: Chairman Adam Wachacha).
Following passage of the legislation during the Dec. 19 special session, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed stated, “I would like to thank the Tribal Council representatives for their due diligence in properly vetting this resolution. The Tribal Council has hosted eight separate work sessions, with one of those including an evening session, allowing community members to provide input. I would like to thank those Tribal Council members that worked on and approved this ordinance, as I believe it is an important part of keeping our election process fair and equitable amongst candidates.”
The representatives voting against Ord. No. 408 expressed their thoughts that more work was needed on the legislation. Rep. Taylor said the day of passage, “I won’t support this ordinance as it is. I can’t support it until we get it right.”
Rep. French made a motion to kill the legislation which wasn’t approved and noted, “There’s still more work to be done on this ordinance.”
Crowe’s protest will most likely be heard in the regular session of Tribal Council in February, but that agenda has not been released as of press time.