The election for the Chukchansi tribal council has been upheld after four candidates who are not among those to be seated filed appeals.
The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Coursegold, California has been closed for more than a year after factional battles over audits for Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino last October resulting in the casino’s office being raided and the facility being closed by authorities. While some vow to keep appealing election results, there are those who say it’s time to move on so that the tribe’s casino can reopen.
Seven candidates from the Morris Reid faction were favored at the October 3rd election. From 2010, three of those elected sat on the “interim council,” which is the federally recognized council implemented by the government earlier this year to oversee council business. Reggie Lewis and Nancy Ayala, two members of the 2010 council, were two of the candidates who filed appeals. The two other candidates who filed oppositions to the election results were Donna Featherstone and Melvin Espe, who over the past few years have both served on councils.
The voter rolls were the major catalyst for the appeals. Rolls from 2012 that removed 150 voters from those used in the 2010 election due to their unrolled status should have been used instead, according to Lewis. However, a 4-3 vote by the tribal council earlier this year decided the 2010 voter list would be used. Lewis said that allowing non-members of the tribe to vote, something that the council historically hasn’t allowed, is what made the difference in the victory for the Reid faction, according to the Fresno Bee. Election participants included about half of those eligible to vote.
The decision by the tribal council to approve the 2010 voter rolls was the reason given by the Indian Dispute Resolution Services in Sacramento to abide by the council’s decision. The agency’s senior mediator, Steven Haberfeld said that the agency did not have the authority to question the contents of the voter rolls and therefore could not divert from the tribal council’s decision. The two other factions opposing the election results are the original tribal family whose leader is Luke Davis, and the former Tex McDonald faction, now chaired by Monica Davis who says her group will hold its own elections in December.
In an attempt to stop any election from taking place until the enrollment issues have been resolved, a temporary restraining order was obtained the Luke Davis faction from Judge Anthony Famulary. Morris Reid faction representatives said it doesn’t recognize Famulary as a tribal court judge.
On Monday at a tribal ceremony in Oakhurst the council’s new members will be sworn in.