By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Reporter
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Wolftown Tribal Council Rep. Bo Crowe was not present for Tuesday morning’s (Jan. 31) Budget Council meeting. Instead, Chairperson Richard French read out a statement on his behalf:
“Mr. Chairman, members of Tribal Council, it has been an honor representing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Please accept this letter as my official resignation effective January 30, 2023. Working for and serving our enrolled members is something that I have put my whole heart into and at this time, with everything going on, I do not feel like my whole heart and mind is here and I cannot be the Council Representative that they know and deserve. I will be stepping away to work on healing my family and taking care of myself I believe that God is in control and I will be keeping you all in my prayers, and I ask that you do the same for myself and my family. Thank you for the friendship, and relationships I have been blessed with during my service as Wolftown/Big Y Council Representative. God bless you all and God bless the Eastern Band.”
The announcement comes a few weeks after Rep. Crowe was arrested and charged with three felonies in Cherokee Court. The incident in question occurred on Friday, Jan. 6. The following week, he addressed Tribal Council and said that he would not be resigning. Exactly three weeks following that announcement, he has decided to step away from his seat around the horseshoe.
As revealed during an arraignment hearing on Jan. 9, Rep. Crowe was charged with assault inflicting serious bodily injury (In offense of Tribal Code 14-40.54), aggravated reckless endangerment (In offense of Tribal Code 14-40.64), and assault by strangulation (In offense of Tribal Code 14-40.49). The Court applied case numbers 23CR9019, 23CR9020, and 23CR9021 for these charges, respectively.
The next court date involving Rep. Crowe is set for April 5.
On the Feb. 2 Tribal Council agenda is a proposed resolution submitted by Chelsea Saunooke and Mary Jane Ferguson calling for the “immediate” suspension of the now former representative from his seat and a commencement of impeachment proceedings. There has not been any information released as to how former Rep. Crowe’s announcement will affect the consideration of the proposed legislation. There is a possibility that Tribal Council could choose to hear and decide concerning impeachment after a resignation. It is equally possible that the proposed legislation could be withdrawn.
His resignation opens a third vacancy of a Tribal Council seat in less than four months. Late Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke passed away on Oct. 9, 2022. Wolftown Rep. Bill Taylor resigned on Oct. 16, 2022 following his arrest. Those two seats were filled via a special election that was held on Dec. 15, 2022. Painttown Rep. Michael Stamper and Wolftown Rep. Andrew Oocumma will hold those seats until the end of this term, which expires Monday, Oct. 2 following the general election.
Will there be a second special election? That has not been decided, but it is absolutely a possibility. Attorney General Michael McConnell confirmed that discussions around a potential special election are already underway, but that there are several moving pieces at this time.
“Yes. There has been some informal discussion by Tribal Council. There probably will be a resolution coming forward on Thursday in conjunction with the Board of Elections to outline the dates for a special election.”
He said ultimately the decision will come down to the will of Tribal Council.
“Tribal Council requested me to work with the Board of Elections to write up a resolution, to create a draft for Tribal Council to consider.”
Cindy Chandler, chairperson of the EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) Board of Elections, said that the Board is doing their best to prepare for whatever scenario is necessary.
“We’re waiting on Tribal Council to decide. For the Special Election (in December), they had a discussion and they submitted resolutions…we just took it from with what they wanted to do,” said Chandler.
She said that she already has Wolftown poll workers contacting her for updates but is unsure of how this will unfold. Chandler said that along with awaiting Tribal Council’s wishes, she also has to see if it is logistically possible to hold a special election before the filing period for candidates running in the primary. That filing period begins on March 6.
“We’re talking about that because right now we’re hinging everything on the election services we use out of Alamogordo, New Mexico. They do numerous tribal elections throughout the country. We’ve always used them, they’re really good…We put a call into them to say this is a possibility.”
Chandler said that it would be a difficult undertaking but she is confident in her team if all the pieces fall into place. She said that so much of it depends on their partners in New Mexico, though. She said that they still want to use their services because of their experience and familiarity with the EBCI.
“The guy always comes out the day before the election. Does a training with all the poll workers and us. Has all his equipment, gets it set up … he’s so familiar with us. He knows where every community poll site is, so he’d drive out to them and check on everybody. Even if they say, ‘can you get another company?’ We really want to keep this guy that knows us and how we operate.”
She also mentioned that filing for each election is separate. So, any candidate that filed for the December special election would need to do so again if there was a second special election. This also holds true for the primary. Ostensibly, there could be a candidate that files for three separate elections in a four-month span, with each of those costing the standard $500 to file.
More information on a potential special election is expected in the coming days, and any developments will immediately be published.