PEMBROKE -- The vice chairman of the Lumbee Tribal Council has withdrawn his name as a candidate for the District 13 seat in the Nov. 4 Tribal Council elections.
James Hardin did so on Tuesday, saying he wants to avoid any conflicts with his new job as executive director of the N.C. Indian Economic Development Initiative Inc. in Fayetteville.
Al Locklear of Hope Mills, who had challenged Hardin for his seat, will run unopposed. Locklear said Hardin's resignation "relieves a lot of pressure" on him and his campaign committee.
"James Hardin has a lot of support here in Cumberland County," Locklear said this morning. "The sad thing is, we are going to lose his expertise on the council. He is a very knowledgeable person about Indian affairs throughout the nation. He's been a leader and strong advocate for Indian people everywhere."
Locklear says he will continue to campaign to make others aware of the needs in District 13.
Hardin begins his new job Nov. 1, but will serve the remainder of his term as vice chairman, which ends in December. District 13 includes Cumberland County, North St. Pauls, Parkton and Lumber Bridge. He was elected to the Council in 2000.
"The past three years on the Tribal Council have been a trying experience, getting a bureaucracy with millions of dollars to be administered built from the ground up," Hardin said in a statement. "I hope the new council will have a smoother transition than we had, with more up front training on roles and responsibilities under the Tribal Constitution.
"I will continue to be an active, concerned participant in our tribal government and continue to do whatever I can to correct the legal status of the tribe to one of a fully acknowledged tribe under federal law."
Hardin, who lives in Fayetteville, has been involved with Indian affairs for more than 30 years. He has worked at the Lumbee Regional Development Association since 1986, including 15 years as its executive director. He has worked as director of Grants and Resources Development at LRDA since 2001.
Before working at LRDA, he served as executive director of an urban Indian Center in Fayetteville for 13 years. He was elected as the Southeast Area delegate to the National Congress of American Indians in 1990 and assisted with the tribe's federal recognition efforts.
Hardin helped found two national urban Indian advocacy organizations in Washington and Denver, Colo., in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They represent off-reservation Indian issues before Congress and federal agencies.
"LRDA has made a difference in the advancement of the Lumbee people over its 36-year history on the local, state, and national level," Hardin said. "The Lumbee people have risen from national obscurity to become a major player at all levels of government from Robeson County to Washington and national Indian country over the past three decades. God blessed me to have the opportunity in such a wonderful career to help see some of these things come to pass."