Tribe borrows to pay for elections

First Posted: 10/16/2013

PEMBROKE — Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks says that his administration has secured a $21,313 loan to cover the cost of the Tribal Council elections that are scheduled for Nov. 12.

“We will repay the loan using development fees associated with our proposed tax credit project,” Brooks said.

According to a statement issued by the chairman, the tribe is planning to build a 50-unit housing subdivision in Pembroke for the elderly. The majority of the $7 million project, which will provide housing for eligible individuals 62 and older, will be funded through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, Brooks said.

The Lumbee Supreme Court last week ordered that $21,313 be found so elections can proceed as scheduled.

Carvicous Barfield, chairwoman of the Elections Board, confirmed that the money has been turned over to the Elections Board. The annual elections are right on schedule, she said.

“We are moving forward,” said Barfield. “We are not behind.”

Barfield said that ever since the Nov. 12 election was put on hold because the tribal administration and elections board could not agree over the cost of the election and how to pay for it, the parts of the election process that can be “pre-planned” have continued. Preparations have included processing absentee ballots and establishing polling sites.

Barfield announced last month that the elections were “suspended” until money was available to pay for them as mandated by the Lumbee Constitution. In response, Brooks filed a petition on Sept. 23 with the tribe’s Supreme Court asking that the Elections Board be ordered to hold the elections as scheduled.

Barfield and several members of the Lumbee Tribal Council have argued that $26,000 was included in the tribe’s current fiscal budget to cover the costs of administering the annual election. Brooks and tribal administrators, however, contend that the money put in the budget is federal housing money and cannot be used to hold an election.

The 18 candidates vying for seven seats on the 21-member council paid $4,500 in filing fees, leaving just more than the $21,000 that election officials have insisted the elections will cost.

Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt said that that the election could be held for only about $8,000 because there is no chairman’s race, which requires a vote in all of the tribe’s 14 districts. The administration held the position that enough money could be found to administer the election by eliminating the salary and travel costs for each of the five Elections Board members; using volunteers to administer the election ; cutting the number of judges at the polls; and opening only one polling site in each of the contested districts.

Only six of the seven seats up for election on Nov. 12 are contested. Daniel Jones, a District 8 candidate, is unopposed.