By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Two of the three candidates for offices within the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who were previously not certified have been certified to be put on the ballot for June’s Primary Election. The EBCI Board of Elections previously denied Sharon Bradley as a candidate for Big Y School Board and Mary “Missy” Crowe and Teresa McCoy as candidates for Principal Chief.
The Board has since certified Bradley and McCoy, but Crowe remains not certified as of press time. In a letter dated April 25, the Board reversed its earlier decision on Bradley and wrote, “Following the submission of additional information at your appeal hearing, the Board has determined that you satisfy the requirements to be a candidate for the Big Y School Board as set forth in the Elections Code.”
After filing in March, Bradley received a letter on April 1 denying her candidacy per Cherokee Code Section 161-3(d)(5) which states that a person may not be certified as a candidate if “the person is more than ninety (90) days in default of an obligation to pay a debt to the Tribe”.
Her denial letter alleged, “The records on file with the EBCI Housing Department indicate that, as of March 28, 2019, you are in arrears $4,526.39. The Board is aware you have been making housing payments via tribal payroll deduction; however, there are historical arrearages which have not been cured and are in excess of ninety (90) days old.”
Bradley told the One Feather that her account issues with EBCI Housing have been ongoing. “I just presented my case and discussed Qualla Housing’s methods of applying people’s payments. It’s been eight years that I’ve been trying to get this straightened out with them.”
The Qualla Housing Authority merged recently with the EBCI Housing & Community Development Division to form the EBCI Housing Division.
“There were several months where they took my payment as late charges,” Bradley noted. “You’re not supposed to have late payments if you have payroll deductions.”
She is still working with the Housing Division to get her account straightened out, and she is ready to get on with her campaign. “I’m excited to get out into the community. We have a lot of work that we need to do at the school for the betterment of our students. I want to be the school of choice for all of our enrolled members.”
Following her appeal hearing, Crowe was again denied certification on the same statute as Bradley (Cherokee Code 161-3(d)(5). In a letter dated April 9, the Board outlines its reasons for denial, “Following the submission of additional information at your appeal hearing, the Board of Elections has determined that you do not satisfy the requirements to be a candidate for the position of Principal Chief as set forth in the Elections Code. Your materials did not address the underlying issue of the existence of this debt owed to the Tribe at the time the Board of Elections denied your certification.”
In the original denial letter sent April 1 to Crowe, the Board alleges that she signed a TSALAGI (Tribal Solutions to Affordable Living Arrangements by Group Initiative Occupancy Agreement) in 2011 and alleges that she stopped payments on this agreement from 2013-16. It states a court judgment was entered against her in 2016 and “since entry of Court’s judgement against you, you have not made payments and you are in arrears in the amount of $3,848 as of March 28, 2019. This arrearage is more than ninety (90) days old and has not been cured.”
Crowe sent a letter to the Board on Wednesday, May 1 in which she claims the Board is “in violations of my constitutional rights to privacy and due process under the Indian Civil Rights Act by obtaining my private information from Qualla Housing Authority without my knowledge or consent”.
Due to that fact, she wrote, “I request that the EBCI Board of Elections Chairwoman Denise Ballard notify the Cherokee Supreme Court of their discussion to certify me as a candidate as to not waste any more of the court’s time and the people’s time.”
As of press time, the Board had not acted on Crowe’s latest request.
The Cherokee Supreme Court ordered the EBCI Board of Elections to put Teresa McCoy on the ballot as a candidate for Principal Chief following her hearing before them on Monday, April 29. Following a four-hour hearing, the Supreme Court issued a short ruling which stated, “The Court, based upon review of the record and briefs, and consideration of oral arguments, hereby vacates and reverses the decision of the Board of Elections denying certification to Teresa McCoy as a 2019 candidate for the Office of Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”
The appeal hearing decision letters were provided to the One Feather by the Board on Friday, May 3.