Tribal Government & News
Cherry picked: Newcomer joins Kennedy, George on Tribal Council
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
First-time Tribal Council candidate Michael Cherry joined incumbents Cheryle A. Kennedy and Jon A. George in securing new three-year terms during the Saturday, Sept. 11, election.
Cherry, who is Spirit Mountain Community Fund’s executive director, received 661 votes. She follows in the footsteps of her mother, Candy Robertson, who served on Tribal Council from 1984 to 1994, and her sister, Angie Blackwell, who served on Tribal Council from 2004 to 2007.
“I am greatly pleased and honored to be elected to represent the Tribal membership as a council member,” Cherry said. “A responsibility I do not take lightly and will not take for granted. I want to sincerely thank all of the Tribal members who spent time with me sharing their thoughts, concerns and hopes for the future as a Tribe. I will do my best to represent you and your voice. I humbly serve you, the members and I’m so thankful for your vote of confidence.
“I hope to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to an already strong group of leaders and I’m in awe of the dedication of all the candidates who ran this year. As we rest on the promises of our Creator, I will commit to working tirelessly toward our vision of being a Tribal community known as a caring people, dedicated to the principles of honesty and integrity.”
Cherry’s election ends a two-year streak of only incumbents being re-elected to Tribal Council. Cherry also becomes the first rookie candidate elected to Tribal Council since Kathleen George, who also was in charge of the Community Fund, finished first in 2016.
Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy led the field of five candidates with the most votes, receiving 869. She won her eighth consecutive term on Tribal Council dating back to 2000.
Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George received 778 votes and won his fourth consecutive term on Tribal Council.
“I am humbled to be elected once again by my membership,” George said. “With confidence I will carry on the good work of this council, and will practice the culture of honor in my role as a Tribal leader. Blessings and thanks go out to my uncle Steve Bobb for his years of service to our Tribe. You will be missed.”
Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. finished fourth with 595 votes and ends his three non-consecutive terms of service on Tribal Council.
Challenger Perri McDaniel finished fifth with 350 votes. It was her fifth campaign for Tribal Council.
Tribal turnout was 28.2 percent with 1,223 votes cast by an eligible electorate of 4,336 voters. It was the lowest voter turnout since 2016.
Tribal voters also weighed in on four non-binding advisory votes. Results were:
- Should the Tribe increase the minors trust distribution age from 21 to 25? 613 yes vs. 501 no.
- Should the Tribe establish a small business loan program for Tribal member startups and businesses? 844 yes vs. 265 no.
- Should the Tribe establish an endowment for land acquisitions? 609 yes vs. 435 no.
- Should the Tribe provide expanded health services for Tribal Elders including, but not limited to, dementia care and hospice services? 1,031 yes vs. 91 no.
Kennedy, George and Cherry will be sworn into office during a Wednesday, Sept. 15, ceremony held in the Governance Center and take their seats during that afternoon’s 4 p.m. Tribal Council meeting.