BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter Cherokee Phoenix
TAHLEQUAH – Chuck Hoskin Jr., former secretary of state for the Cherokee Nation, has been elected principal chief, according to unofficial results of the June 1 general election.
The tribe’s Election Commission posted the results in the early hours of June 2.
The results show Hoskin with 7,819 ballots or 57.93 percent of the vote. Dick Lay received 3,691 votes, or 27.34 percent.
Because of the disqualification of candidate David Walkingstick, whose name was printed on the ballot, the remaining percentage was cast for the Dist. 3 tribal councilor. Walkingstick received 1,988 votes, or 14.73 percent.
The EC announced the results with 51 of 52 precincts reporting, or 99.48 percent. There were 406 challenged ballots, which election officials said would be “counted later tomorrow.” It was unclear whether the disputed ballots would be resolved on Sunday or Monday.
“I think the campaign went well,” Hoskin said. “It was a campaign that took all of my energy and all of (deputy chief candidate) Bryan Warner’s energy. I think the end results speak for themselves. I wouldn’t be here without my family, friends, colleagues that I served with while secretary of state, and folks who wanted to see this progress continue and were attracted to the message Councilor Warner and I were offering.”
Hoskin said there were several issues he hoped to address once he assumes office.
“I think initially we have to look at health care,” he said. “Our health care system has grown and improved the last eight years, but we know there are gaps, particularly with wait times, not enough providers – doctors, nurses and other health care providers. The first thing I want to look at his how to remedy that. We have some ideas. We need to leverage the $100 million in new revenue that is coming in from the government to help operate the new outpatient facility. We need to leverage our partnership with Oklahoma State University, so we can start growing our own doctors. But we also have a range of issues such as language preservation that we need to continue to work on, job creation – not just directly but also in the rural areas in particular where capital investment makes sense. We have to be prepared for the compact negotiations in a year. These are some of the issues that helped propel us to victory tonight.”
All results are unofficial until certified by the EC.
For all the June 1 races, recount requests must be received by June 5, and any recount must be completed by June 7. The deadline for appeals is June 10. Requests for absentee ballots in runoff races must be received by June 17. Absentee ballots will be mailed June 24-25. Walk-in or early absentee voting will be offered at the CNEC office on July 20 and 23-25. Runoff elections are July 27.