Jess Henry, Anthony Dillard
On Saturday, July 10, 2021, Jess Henry, left, won the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council District 4 seat outright, while incumbent Anthony Dillard, right, retained his District 10 seat. (NonDoc)

Joey Tom and Adrian Johnico will head to an Aug. 7 runoff election for Choctaw Nation Tribal Council District 7, while incumbent District 10 Councilman Anthony Dillard easily won re-election and District 4 voters selected Jess Henry over Jennifer Roberts in a close race.

“Thanks to everyone who helped campaign for my race,” Henry wrote on Facebook late Saturday. “Each and every one of you made a huge difference, and Joy and I are grateful for that. While today is a day for celebration, the hard work begins as I prepare to represent District 4. I will be a voice for ALL Choctaws as I work toward improving our housing, education, and health care while fighting to bring more jobs into our communities. Let’s all work together to improve and protect our nation.”

According to results labeled “unofficial” but that have been certified by Choctaw Nation election officials, Henry received 617 votes (53.4 percent) to Roberts’ 539 votes (46.6 percent). Roberts won in-person voting 147 to 62, but Henry received 555 absentee votes compared to Roberts’ 392 absentee votes.

“The excitement about this election from everyone young to old kept me going through all this, as we all wanted the same results for the same reasons. But I encourage you all to try and keep that excitement and shift it to another area where you can make a difference in someone’s life,” Roberts wrote on Facebook. “Tribal employees who supported me, go back to work with no fear of repercussions, as I always say there are strength in numbers and it is your right to support who you choose and be proud of that choice.”

Roberts congratulated Henry and urged her supporters to interact with the newly elected councilman.

“I want to encourage all tribal members and community members of District 4 to fully utilize this tribal council member position as much as possible. You should have access, see great personal involvement, voice your concerns, your hopes and your needs to him to better District 4 Choctaws, families, and communities, as of course any elected official is held to this standard,” Roberts wrote. “So no matter your view or concerns about the results of this election, I ask that we stay united for each other. Celebrating or not, we are all in this together. again, I can’t thank you all enough for the faith and trust you put into me during this time.”

Tom, Johnico runoff bound in Pushmataha-area district

Joey Tom
Joey Tom

In District 7, which primarily covers an area extending north and east from Antlers, Choctaw Nation youth services employee and Wright City School Board member Joey Tom will head to a runoff against welder Adrian Johnico after the two men finished atop a field of four candidates.

The Choctaw Nation runoff election will be held Saturday, Aug. 7, the same day as citizens of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma vote in a runoff election for assistant chief.

Tom received 460 votes (40.1 percent), and Johnico received 421 votes (36.7 percent). James Smith finished third with 155 votes (13.5 percent), and Melissa Reich received 112 votes (9.8 percent).

Tom received 109 in-person votes and 351 absentee ballots cast. Johnico received 113 in-person votes and 308 absentee ballots.

Adrian Johnico
Adrian Johnico

On Facebook, Tom thanked his supporters.

“Moving forward, I will continue to work hard during the next step of the election process and hope to gain your support,” he wrote. “Yakoke for the support and the blessings you all have shown to me and my family during this!”

In his own Facebook post, Johnico said he will “highly active” for the next three weeks trying to meet more voters.

“I am running because I love the Choctaw people, and I want to serve and help them,” Johnico wrote. “I will be a voice for the people. I am honored and humbled to be in the runoff.

Dillard dominates in District 10

In District 10, incumbent Councilman Anthony Dillard finished with 554 votes (90.7 percent) to Sherman “Bo” Miller’s 57 votes (9.3 percent). Miller received zero in-person votes, while Dillard received 26. The remainder of District 10’s 585 votes were cast absentee.

Tribal Council details

Currently headquartered in Durant, the tribe’s historic reservation was affirmed by an Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decision earlier this year following the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

The Choctaw Nation Tribal Council is comprised of 12 seats, six of which were up for election in 2021. In three of those six districts, the incumbent councilmembers were re-elected without opposition: District 6 Councilwoman Jennifer Woods, District 9 Councilman James Dry and District 12 Councilman James Frazier.

Incumbent District 4 Councilman Delton Cox and Incumbent District 7 Councilman Jack Austin Sr. chose not to seek re-election in 2021. Austin, whose son has served as Choctaw Nation assistant chief since 2014, has endorsed Tom.

(Update: This article was updated at 4:52 p.m. Thursday, July 15, when Choctaw Nation representatives confirmed the Aug. 7 runoff election date had been established.)