PEMBROKE — Candidate filings for the Lumbee Tribal Council will begin Monday, despite many tribal members being unaware of which voting district they reside.
The election will be held on Nov. 15.
According to Sheila Beck-Jones, chairman of the tribe’s Board of Elections, even election officials still have questions about the new districts that were recently approved by the Tribal Council. The council, not the Borad of Elections, is designated in the Lumbee Constitution as being responsible for redistricting following each national census, Beck-Jones said.
The maps, which were drawn by the Lumber River Council of Governments, were based on 2010 census data. Each district includes a population of 3,099 and was drawn “solely by census block.”.
Seven seats are up for grabs on the 21-member council, which until last week represented 14 voting districts. The new 21-district makeup gives each district one vote rather than some districts, such as Pembroke, having two or three votes.
The seven contested seats and those currently filling them are: District 21, Janie McFarland; District 15, Alton Locklear; District 3, Larry Townsend; District 1, Jan Lowery; District 17, David Jones; District 10, Areatha Patterson; and District 12, William Maiden. Terms are all for three years.
To be eligible to serve on the council, a candidate must be more than 21 years old, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and have lived in the district they will represent for at least 30 days. The filing fee is $250.
The candidate filing period closes on Sept. 23 by 5 p.m. According to Beck-Jones, the Board of Elections is in the process of moving their office so filing hours will be limited to weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the board’s present office, 78D, Three Hunt’s Drive, Pembroke. The office is located in the COMtech business park, just off of N.C. 711.
Beck-Jones said that every year when election time approaches the Board of Elections is having to move its office. She wants that to end.
“I am begging the Tribal Council to find the money to build the elections board a permanent home,” she said.
Because of the redistricting, Beck-Jones said Friday that she will have to amend the $40,000 budget request she made to the council to fund this year’s election.
“We are going to have to hire more personnel to carry out the election, and I have to order all new maps,” she said. “I’m going to have to revise my budget,” she said.
Beck-Jones said that she expects the additional expenses associated with redistricting to total about $10,000.
Anyone wanting information about candidate filing or the election process should call the Lumbee Tribe Board of Elections office at 910-374-6290.