Hixenbaugh, Mike. "Lobbying contract could affect Lumbee tribal election." The Fayetteville Observer. 7 November 2010. http://fayobserver.com
Tribal Council elections to be held Tuesday, Nov. 9, may be affected by the former contract the Lumbee Tribe had with the Las Vegas gaming consultant, Lewin International.
There are 17 candidates who are running for six open seats on the 21-member council that makes up the Lumbee legislative branch.
Resident Tim Sampson told reporters that the tribe's former agreement with Lewin Int. will be a major issue among the election. Sampson also stated, "That's what this election should be about...That was such a big deal; people don't just forget about that." Sampson remained neutral when asked whom he supported, though he did mention that there are "still a lot of strong feelings out there--both for and against."
Last March the Lewin contract was ratified by tribal leaders. The contract offered Lewin International possible shares of future economic investments in exchange for legal assistance with the tribe's fight to gain full federal recognition in Washington.
The contract was nullified this summer when many tribal members became worried the deal might jeopardize the tribe's chance at achieving recognition in exchange for the option to open casinos.
Two Tribal Council members in support of the Lewin deal, along with the contract's main opponent, are in for a hard fight to keep their seats due to the controversy.
Tribal members representing both sides of the election stated last Friday (Nov. 5) that the result of this election could mean somewhat of a referendum on the Lewin contract. Beth Jacobs, a Lumbee Tribe member, says, "I do think the Lewin contract is going to be a factor in the election...Folks are talking about it still. I hope this election does serve as a referendum on (the contract)."
Last spring, Jacobs helped create the Lumbee Sovereignty Coalition to protest the lobbying agreement. The coalition served as a "watchdog group" of sorts, who called for the recall of tribal representatives, though later backed down. Jacobs noted that the upcoming election will give voters a chance to voice their opinions on the Lewin controversy.
Former Tribal Speaker Gerald Goolsby, though, feels that voters will vote in favor of council members who were for the Lewin deal and vote against, or punish, the people who opposed it. Goolsby said that he participated in the first conversations with Lewin three years ago when he was serving as tribal speaker. He is now running against Councilwoman Louise Mitchell for his former District 2 seat, which represents Black Swamp, Fairmont, and Smyrna.
Louise Mitchell, who vocally opposed the Lewin contract, was one of a minority on the board who struggled to reverse the contract. Goolsby believes that Mitchell's opposition damaged the tribe's chance at achieving federal recognition from Congress. He told reporters, "I think the controversy surrounding federal recognition and negativity that surrounded the process during her term was not positive. There was a lot of negative comments by her and misleading comments as it relates to federal recognition and gaming."
Mitchell declined to comment last Friday (Nov. 5) on Goolsby's remarks and whether Mitchell's own opposition would help her bid for re-election. She did say that she preferred to focus on pushing the tribe forward by building a more responsive government. She told reporters, "I just feel you need people there who are going to represent the people--who will be the voice for the people...I feel that if we work together as the Lumbee Tribe--all the branches--I think we can begin to be the government that we set out to be in the beginning."
Two Tribal Councilmen who declined to comment, Larry Chavis and Furnie Lambert, Jr., both of whom voted for the Lewin contract.
The Lumbee Tribal Council made progress with a new lobbying firm after the Lewin deal was voided, but lawmakers in Washington will likely ignore the Lumbee Recognition Bill during the lame-duck session.
LUMBEE TRIBAL COUNCIL
Eighteen people are seeking seven seats on the Lumbee Tribal Council. Tribal elections are Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Each district has one seat available. The terms are for three years. The following are seeking office. An (i) indicates an incumbent.
(Black Swamp, Fairmont and Smyrna)
(i) Louise Mitchell
Polling sites: Fairmont City Hall, Smyrna Fire Department and Southern Spirit Community Center
Lesaundri "Lee'' Hunt
Pearlean Hunt Revels
Glen Thomas Hunt
Steven W. McNeill
Polling sites: West Lumberton Elementary School, Soaring Eagle Community Center and Barker Ten Mile Men's Club
(Raft Swamp and North Pembroke)
(i) Larry A. Chavis
Gerri Lynn Locklear
Milton E. Locklear
Polling sites: O.P. Owens Library and Indian Education Building
(South Pembroke and Union)
Willie R. Harris Jr.
Polling sites: Pembroke Middle School and Union Elementary
(Scotland County, Maxton and Alfordsville)
Lee Albert Barefoot
(i) Furnie Lambert Jr.
Danita Ann Locklear
Charles Franklin Locklear
Polling sites: Alfordsville VFW Building, Stewartsville Fire Department and Queheel Fire Department
(Cumberland County, Parkton, Lumber Bridge and North St. Pauls)
James Edward "Bo'' Locklear
William Allen Maiden
Polling sites: N.C. Indian Housing Authority, St. Pauls Community Center and Lumber Bridge Town Hall
*One candidate is unopposed: Stephen D. Sampson in District 8.