There were many bitter words spoken during the campaign for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and more since. Don’t expect silence anytime soon.
Prior to the vote late last month, incumbent Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker and their respective camps had some heated words for each other. In open debate, it was obvious there were serious differences between the two sides in this important vote for Oklahoma’s largest tribe.
Tension grew after the election as well, when the Cherokee Nation Election Commission announced Baker had won by only 11 votes. Original news accounts at the time said some 15,000 Cherokees had cast ballots and the commission had to look over the unofficial results before certifying them.
After sifting through some 250 challenges and working all night, the commission came back with its “official” results: Smith won by seven votes.
A recount was requested and, this time, Baker was declared the winner by a 266-vote margin. A sway of more than 250 votes.
The battle apparently is not over. The results of June 30′s hand recount were certified as official, but the Smith camp contends the recount is incomplete because there is a 251-vote discrepancy between the sum of the votes counted that day and those in the original certified results announced June 27.
One tribal official said he has had enough. Cherokee Nation Election Commission chairman Roger Johnson filed a resignation letter early Tuesday morning. No action has been taken yet on the filed letter.
A story in the Tulsa World said Johnson, citing inaccurate news media reports in the election aftermath, wrote: “My honor, character and integrity have been unreasonably damaged.”
The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court has set a hearing for 8:30 a.m. Thursday on all pending applications and motions.
Meanwhile, there are other tribal offices still undecided because no one candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote in the general election.
David Walkingstick and Mark Vance will meet for the third seat in District No. 1. Council members Jodie Fishinghawk and Harley Buzzard are vying for seat No. 3 in the second district. It will be Dick Lay versus incumbent council member Bradley Cobb in the runoff for seat No. 2 in District No. 4.
Council members S. Joe Crittenden of Stilwell and Chris Soap of Pryor will be in the runoff as well. They were the top two finishers in the deputy chief’s race June 26.
So who will lead the Cherokee Nation? Keep checking http://knowit.newsok.com/culture/cherokee to find the latest updates.