Incumbents dominate EBCI tribal election

by Sep 6, 2019Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da





Every incumbent that was on the ballot of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) General Election, held Thursday, Sept. 5, won their respective race.  According to unofficial tallies by the EBCI Board of Elections, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed defeated Teresa McCoy, a former longtime Tribal Council representative for the Big Cove Community, by the margin of 2,131 to 1,736.  Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley won over Jim Owle, Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise (TCGE) Chairman and former Tribal Council Chairman, by a margin of 2,500 to 1,335.

Chief Sneed won all voting townships except for McCoy’s home township of Big Cove.  The breakdown by township is as follows: Big Cove: McCoy 253-146, Big Y: Sneed 120-86, Birdtown: Sneed 512-431, Cherokee Co.: Sneed 103-49, Painttown: Sneed 245-174, Snowbird: Sneed 153-117, Wolftown: Sneed 326-282, Yellowhill: Sneed 201-189, and Absentee: Sneed 31-11.

“I am humbled and honored by the outpouring of support evidenced in these election results,” Chief Sneed said in a statement on Thursday night.  “I want to thank my family, especially my wife and children, for their love and support throughout my administration and during this campaign season.  It has been my privilege to serve the people of the Eastern Band as your Principal Chief for the past two years, and I am eager to continue this service.  We have already begun to experience tremendous growth as a Tribe as well as a stabilization of our government.”

He went on to state, “Your confidence in my leadership empowers the EBCI to continue along this path and ensure the security of our future.  I am grateful to the employees who work hard every day to move our goals forward and provide a better way of life for our community and Tribe.  I view this vote as a vote of confidence in our accomplishments.”

In a statement on Thursday night, McCoy thanked her followers and stated, “I commend anyone who steps up and puts their name on a ballot.  The process of elections is one that deserves integrity and trust.  I believe voting is a privilege worth defending.  Congratulations to everyone who got the vote, and to all who voted.  It matters.  It is important.  Let’s remember the reason we run – to improve the lives of our people, and to enhance the future of our Tribe.”

She added, “I appreciate everyone who supported me, the kinds words, the fellowship, and the food!  I listened.  I always will.  Cherokee people are the finest kind!”

Vice Chief Ensley swept each voting township as follows: Big Cove – 291-99, Big Y 143-65, Birdtown 515-423, Cherokee Co. 112-37, Painttown 282-131, Snowbird 195-75, Wolftown 401-198, Yellowhill 276-117, and Absentee 26-16.

In a statement to the One Feather, he commented, “First, I would like to say how truly humbled I am for the support.  In the next four years, I will continue to work for the people in our communities.  There are many areas we need to focus on, and I look forward to getting to work and helping our Tribe progress.”

Owle told the One Feather, “I would just like to thank everyone who came out and voted in the election, and I would like to thank everyone who supported me in this election from the Primary to the General.  I would like to thank my immediate family – my wife, my kids, and all my family.”

He added, “I would like to congratulate my brother, Boyd, on winning in the Birdtown Community, and I want to congratulate Chief Sneed, Vice Chief Ensley, all of the incumbent Tribal Council representatives, and the two newly-elected Council members.  I wish them all the best of luck.”

Voter participation hit 57.11 percent for the General Election – up around 18 percent from June’s Primary Election where it was just shy of 39 percent.  As in the Primary Election, Snowbird led the way with the highest voting percentage of any township with 64.21 percent.  They were followed by: Birdtown 59.93 percent, Painttown 58.45 percent, Wolftown 57.31 percent, Big Y 56.86 percent, Big Cove 56.63 percent, Yellowhill 52.39 percent, and Cherokee County 45.20 percent.  A total of 42 absentee ballots were cast and 437 people took advantage of the early voting option.

Following are the remainder of the unofficial results per the EBCI Board of Election (those indicated in bold are the unofficial winners):

Big Cove Tribal Council

Richard French 254

Perry Shell 217

Fred Penick 187

Renee Long Cole 165


Birdtown Tribal Council

Boyd Owle 682

Albert Rose 589

Nelson Lambert 455

Ashley Sessions 255


Cherokee County/Snowbird Tribal Council

Adam Wachacha 337

Bucky Brown 294

Janelle Rattler 179

Sherry Smoker 105


Painttown Tribal Council

Dike Sneed 260

Tommye Saunooke 255

Pamela Sneed 202

Cherie Bird Rose 139


Wolftown Tribal Council

Bo Crowe 717

Chelsea Saunooke 409

Bill Taylor 327

Nathaniel “Bunsey” Crowe 242


Yellowhill Tribal Council

David T. Wolfe 337

Tom Wahnetah 250

Tawania Ensley 164

Stephanie Saunooke French 110


Big Y School Board

Tara Reed-Cooper 138

Sharon E. Bradley 90


Painttown School Board

Regina Ledford-Rosario 363


Yellowhill School Board

Jennifer Thompson 398