Cherokee election filing continues
With the deadline to register getting nearer, the list of people running for tribal office in this year’s elections is getting longer. As of press time Tuesday, 29 people were signed up to run for 14 offices, with an additional four people signed up to run for three school board seats.
Notable observations include:
• The list of candidates for principal chief now includes five people. Gary R. Ledford, a U.S. Air Force veteran and 2007-12 director of public safety for the tribe is the most recent person to throw his hat in the ring. Ledford will run against Teresa McCoy, incumbent Richard Sneed, Carroll “Peanut” Crowe and Phillip Ellington.
• Vice Chief Alan “B” Ensley now has competition in his quest for a first elected term to that office. He will run against Frank “Pete” Taylor and Ben Parker.
• Thus far, all incumbent Tribal Council members are running for re-election, save one. Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell has not yet filed to run, though he has until 4 p.m. Friday, March 15, to do so.
• Despite having the most registered voters of any district, Birdtown is currently tied with Big Cove for the fewest candidates for Tribal Council. Incumbents Albert Rose and Boyd Owle are the only ones to have officially filed so far, but former candidate Ashley Sessions has announced her intention to do so. Sessions was declared winner of the seat now held by Rose following a recount of votes in the 2017 election, but following a protest from Rose the Board of Elections determined the count to be unreliable and ordered a runoff election, which Sessions lost. Rose was then sworn into the seat.
• Wolfetown/Big Y has by far the most candidates for its two Tribal Council seats. Former Chairman Bill Taylor, who suffered a definitive loss in his 2017 re-election bid, will look to reclaim his old seat. Also in the mix are Tony Cabe, Jess “Fonzie” Sneed, Paula “Cricket” Brown Wojtkowski, Sam “Frell” Reed and Chelsea Saunooke. They will all face incumbents Bo Crowe and Jeremy Wilson.
With several days remaining in the sign-up period, a substantial number of candidates have already put their names forward for tribal office.
• Principal Chief: Teresa McCoy, Richard Sneed, Carroll “Peanut” Crowe, Phillip Ellington, Gary R. Ledford.
• Vice Chief: Alan “B” Ensley, Frank “Pete” Taylor, Ben Parker.
• Big Cove Tribal Council: Fred Penick, Richard French.
• Yellowhill Tribal Council: Tom Wahnetah, Rose Shell-Maney, David Wolfe.
• Snowbird/Cherokee County Tribal Council: Adam Wachacha, Janell Rattler, Bucky Brown.
• Birdtown Tribal Council: Albert Rose, Boyd Owl.
• Big Y/Wolfetown Tribal Council: Bo Crowe, Bill Taylor, Tony Cabe, Jess “Fonzie” Sneed, Jeremy Wilson, Paula “Cricket” Brown Wojtkowski, Sam “Frell” Reed, Chelsea Saunooke.
• Painttown Tribal Council: Tommye Saunooke, Dike Sneed, Lisa Taylor.
• Yellowhill School Board: Jennifer Thompson.
• Big Y School Board: Sharon Bradley, Tara Reed-Cooper.
• Painttown School Board: Regina Ledford Rosario.
The list is still unofficial at this point, with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Board of Elections still needing to complete background checks and certify that candidates meet legal requirements to run. The Primary Election will be held Thursday, June 6, and the General Election will be Thursday, Sept. 5. Candidates can sign up to run through 4 p.m. Friday, March 15.