PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that tribal elections will proceed as scheduled, but it didn’t determine where the money would be found.
The Nov. 12 elections had been on hold as the Elections Board and the tribal administration bickered over election expenses.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Locklear met without success with Electons Board Chairman Carvicous Barfield and tribal administrators, including Chairman Paul Brooks, on Oct. 1 to try to resolve the dispute.
On Thursday, the full Supreme Court listened to two hours of testimony before ruling that the tribal administration must find $21,313 to pay for the elections. The court said the administration has until Tuesday to provide the money.
“We will honor the court’s decision as we always have,” Brooks said in a statement after the hearing.
The initial dispute had been over how much the elections should cost and where the money could be found.
Barfield has argued $26,000 was budgeted for the elections, but administrators say that is housing money and could not be used to hold an election. Eighteen candidates paid $4,500 in filing fees, leaving just more than $21,000 that Barfield said is needed.
Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt has said that the elections could be held for a lot less — about $8,000 — because there is no chairman’s race, which requires a vote in all the districts. The administration said the money could be found by eliminating the salary and travel costs for each of the five Elections Board members; using volunteers to administer the elections; cutting the number of judges at the polls; and opening only one polling site in each of the contested districts.
Seven district council seats, with one unopposed, are up for election on the 21-member council.
Several of the candidates attended Thursday’s meeting at the Lumbee Tribal Complex on N.C. 711.
Ruling on the case were Judges Locklear, Tina Dicke, Garth Locklear and Wendell Lowery. Judge Von Locklear recused himself because he has a relative serving on the Elections Board.
Scott Witten works for Civitas Media as editor of The Red Springs Citizen and The St. Pauls Review.