PEMBROKE — Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks on Thursday fell short of the support he needs on the Tribal Council to get his latest nominee for tribal administrator confirmed.
Brooks has nominated Tony Hunt, a member of the Hoke County Board of Commissioners, employee of the Hoke County Public Schools, and former tribal chairman candidate, as administrator. As administrator, Hunt would be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the tribe.
The tribe has been without a tribal administrator since 2011. The council did not renew the contract of the last administrator, Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend, after it was learned that former Chairman Purnell Swett had hired her at a higher salary than the 21-member council had agreed upon.
During Thursday’s meeting, some members of the council were ready to approve a contract with Hunt that council members had negotiated during a special council meeting on Monday. The issue never was voted on, however, because two-thirds of the 19 council members present could not agree to put the item on the council’s agenda.
Although McDuffie Cummings, the council’s finance chairman, referred to the council’s involvement in negotiating the contract with Hunt as a “continuing work in motion,” some council members question if the council has the right under Lumbee law to become involved in a function that is given in the tribe’s constitution to the tribal chairman.
Terry Hunt, the council’s parliamentarian, said that his “interpretation” of the Lumbee Constitution is that the council can only confirm or deny the chairman’s nomination of an administrator, not negotiate a contract.
Hunt’s nomination for administrator is the fourth time in just more than a year that Brooks has brought a nominee before the council for confirmation. The chairman’s first two nominations, which were denied by the council, were for Gervais Oxendine, a Lumberton businessman. His last nominee was Steven Hunt, plant manager of Tredegar Film Products in Red Springs who reportedly rejected the offer because of the salary he would receive.
In a statement Thursday, Brooks expressed his disappointment that the council refused to confirm his latest nominee for tribal administrator.
“It is sad that Pearlean (Revels), McDuffie (Cummings), Danita (Locklear), Larry Chavis and other members of the Tribal Council blocked my nomination of Mr. Tony Hunt as tribal administrator,” he said. “This is now my fourth nomination and their denials continue to cripple the quality of housing services offered by the tribe to the tribal membership.”
In other business, the council agreed to pay the Lumber River Council of Government $300 for services related to preparing district voting maps.