TAHLEQUAH – Former tribal councilor Julia Coates of Los Angeles won the open at-large Tribal Council seat in the July 27 Cherokee Nation runoff election.
According to unofficial results, Coates received 879 votes or 56.42 percent of the vote to Kidwell’s 679 votes or 43.58 percent.
Coates, born in Pryor, served as an at-large Tribal Councilor for two terms from 2007 to 2015.
She said she wants to be an “energetic advocate” for at-large citizens.
“At-large citizens deserve a representative who reflects their sensibilities about their own issues as well as their feelings about the direction of the Cherokee Nation. They deserve an energetic advocate who will continue to advance their standing in the Cherokee Nation,” she said in a recent Cherokee Phoenix questionnaire.
Coates also believes at-large citizens deserve a place and a voice within the tribe.
“At-large citizens are a valuable resource and they deserve more than lip service given to their role in this Nation. They deserve a voice and place. They should be getting accurate information. They need the ability to question their elected officials and have their concerns taken seriously. They must be more than a mere audience to the Nation’s civic and cultural life. At-large Cherokees deserve real engagement,” she said in the questionnaire.
Kidwell, born in Claremore and raised in Spavinaw, spent 20-plus years in the U.S. Coast Guard where he said he found the tribe’s administrative and electoral processes to be “disjointed and burdensome.”
“After returning home, I witnessed first-hand the every day struggles of my family members while attempting to use services such as healthcare and housing. I know we can do better than this,” he said in a Cherokee Phoenix questionnaire.
Previous At-Large Tribal Wanda Hatfield ran for her second term but was disqualified early in the race on April 18 by the CN Election Commission for violating the Cherokee statute, “providing anything of value to voter(s) for the direct purpose of influencing voter behavior in an election.”
Her disqualification left the at-large seat open for a new Tribal Councilor.
Coates and the rest of tribe’s newly-elected councilors will be inaugurated on Aug. 14.