PEMBROKE — Lumbee tribal members get their chance to go to the polls today and elect a chairman and seven members to the 21-member Lumbee Tribal Council.
Four candidates hope to unseat incumbent Chairman Paul Brooks, who has served as chairman since 2011 when he was elected in a special election to fill the remaining one-year on the three-year term of former Chairman Purnell Swett.
If re-elected, the Lumbee Supreme Court has ruled that Brooks can only serve two years rather than the normal three-year term. Added to the years he has already served, a two-year term would bring Brooks in line with the tribe’s constitution that does not allow elected tribal officials to serve more than two consecutive three-year terms.
Other candidates running for chairman include: Harvey Godwin Jr., owner of Two Hawk Employment Services in Lumberton; Terry Collins, a current member of the Tribal Council and owner of a construction business in Red Springs; Bobbie Jacobs-Ghaffar, owner of Native Angels, a human health and services business; and Lynn B. Jacobs, a pastor, businessman and considered by many an expert in Lumbee culture and traditions.
Of the seven council seats to be filled in the election, two will be uncontested.
They are District 4 (Red Springs and Philadelphus) where incumbent Jonathan Locklear is seeking re-election, and District 1 (Gaddy, Rowland, Orrum, Sterling’s, Whitehouse and Thompson) where newcomer Lakisha Spaulding Sweat is the lone candidate seeking to replace Evan Davenport, who is not seeking re-election.
Four districts each have two candidates vying for a seat. They include: District 5 (Oxendine and Prospect), incumbent Bobby Dean Oxendine and Don Allen Scott; District 9 (Saddletree), incumbent Anita Hammonds-Blanks and Elaine McNeil Collins; District 10 (Shannon, Rennert and South St. Pauls), Janet Locklear and Beverly Collins-Hall; and District 14 (East Howellsville, Wisharts and Britts ), Jimmy Hunt and Barbara Rose Lowery.
Four candidates are looking to represent District 7 ( South Pembroke and Union): Anthony Miller, Norman Woodward “Woody” Sampson, Alvin John Mercer, and Reginald Lee Oxendine Jr.
Incumbents Robert Chavis, District 7, Terry Collins, District 10, and Homer Fields, District 14, are ineligible to run again.
According to Sheila Beck-Jones, chairman of the tribe’s five-member elections board, 33,303 tribal members are eligible to cast ballots. She said absentee ballots were sent to 584 voters, about the same number of ballots that were sent to voters in the last election for chairman three years ago.
Polling sites will be open Tuesday in all 14 voting districts from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters must present a valid picture identification, which can include a Lumbee Tribe membership card, to cast their ballot.
Beck-Jones said there are fewer schools this year serving as polling places.
“One thing the Board of Elections is trying to do is eliminate schools as polling places,” she said. “This is being done so there is no disruption of the schools on the day of the election. This will also help to ensure that the security of the election is not compromised.”
The polling site for District 12 members in Scotland County is the Queheel Fire Department, 108 E. Rockingham Road, Maxton; Lumbee Heritage Elders Court, 16220 Lumbee Heritage Lane, Laurinburg; Evans Crossroads Fire Department, 3440 Elrod Road, Maxton.
Beck-Jones said that those wishing to get vote tallies as soon as they are recorded by the Board of Elections should go to Porter Plaza, 719 Old Main Road, Pembroke. The Elections Board Office, located at COMtech, is not large enough to provide space for a large crowd, Beck-Jones said.
Reach Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-739-4322