Tribal elections need a home

First Posted: 2/21/2014

PEMBROKE — First the Lumbee Tribe’s Board of Elections office located at the office complex on N.C.. 711, was moved to a temporary site on Union Chapel Road. Now that office has been taken away and the tribe’s adminstrator has told members of the Board of Elections that all furniture and equipment “borrowed” from the tribe must be returned.

Carvicous Barfield, the Board of Elections chairwoman, called on members of the Tribal Council on Thursday to help find a new office for the board so that preparations for upcoming elections can be made. She said that the five members of her board currently have no place to meet, so election business must be conducted over the phone.

“We have no office and all of our things are in storage. Someone is letting us use storage space,” Barfield said. “But that shouldn’t have to be the case. The tribe deserves better than that … . We need an office.”

Barfield said she will meet with members of the Lumbee Nation Tribal Programs Committee, a nonprofit, to discuss issues facing the Board of Elections. The committee is chaired by Councilman William Maiden. All 21-members of the Tribal Council serve on the committee’s board of directors.

The tribe’s Board of Elections is an independent body that operates outside of both the tribe’s administration and council. Federal money the tribe receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cannot be used to fund tribal elections or for other Board of Elections expenses.

According to Barfield, the Board of Elections has budgeted about $28,000 for the next election, which is in November.

Barfield also told council members that Tony Hunt, the tribe’s administrator, sent her and all other members of the Board of Elections a letter on Jan. 22 ordering the board to return all “borrowed” tribal furniture and equipment, including a computer and printer, to the tribe. The letter said failure to return the furniture and equipment could result in criminal charges, Barfield said.

“I spoke with him (Hunt) about this on Jan. 30 and he was to get back to me,” Barfield said. “He still hasn’t.”

In other business, Councilwoman Jan Lowery, of District 7, updated council members on a documentary titled “The Voice of the Lumbee People” that is being made through the Mass Communications Department of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

“It’s being very professionally done,” Lowery said.

Lowery said that those filming the documentary would like to film the council during a meeting.

“They don’t want voices,” she said. “They just want to see us working.”