Lumbee elections now in doubt

Bob Shiles Staff writer

September 12, 2013

PEMBROKE — The filing period for candidates for the the Nov. 12 Lumbee Tribal Council election ends Friday, but there is now a question of whether there is money to pay for the elections.

Carvicous Barfield, chairman of the tribe’s Elections Board, said Wednesday that she was recently told by Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt that there is no money available to fund an election. She said when she asked when money would be available, Hunt told her he didn’t know.

“The council approved $26,000 for an election and put it as a line item in the budget,” Barfield said. “That money is there.”

Although elections are not a permitted use for federal funds allotted the tribe under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, Barfield said that the council budgeted unrestricted funds to cover expenses associated with the November election.

Barfield said that under the Lumbee Constitution, the tribe is required to hold an election every year. She said that the tribal administration, under the leadership of Chairman Paul Brooks, is violating the constitution by not providing the Elections Board with the money needed to run the annual election.

“These people are violating the constitution,” Barfield said. ” … We’re backed in a corner and can’t get out … You can’t run an election without money.”

Barfield said if the election is not held, the incumbents will continue to hold their seats on the council.

“You can’t vacate the seats just because you don’t have an election,” she said.

Hunt, who was in Arizona on Wednesday, told The Robesonian that there is no money for the election and an available funding source — other than housing money — will have to be found.

“We’re looking for money or other resources,” Hunt said. He said “other resources” could include “volunteers” paying for the election.

When questioned about the money the council already designated in the budget for elections, Hunt said the administration still “questions the budget” approved by council. The tribe’s current $24.9 million budget was approved on July 19, but not until two votes to override the chairman’s veto.

Barfield said that if money is not provided for the election by Sept. 23, the election will not be held.

“The election is getting close and we have expenses, such as for the printing of ballots,” she said.

This year seven seats on the 21-member council are slated to be filled. They are District 2, Back Swamp, Fairmont and Smyrna, currently held by Louise Mitchell; District 3, Lumberton, currently held by Pearlean Revels; District 6, North Pembroke and Raft Swamp, currently held by Larry Chavis; District 7, South Pembroke and Union, currently held by Larry Campbell; District 8, Burnt Swamp, currently held by Steve Sampson; District 12, Maxton, Alfordsville and Scotland County, currently held by Danita Locklear; and District 13, Cumberland County, Parkton, Lumber Bridge and North St. Pauls, currently held by William Maiden.

As of this morning, 13 candidates have filed. Incumbents Larry Campbell and Danita Locklear are the only two eligible incumbents who have not filed for re-election.

Because the Lumbee Constitution does not allow a council member to serve more than two consecutive three-year terms, Louise Mitchell, Larry Chavis and Steve Sampson cannot seek re-election.