Three legislative seats are up for grabs in the Chickasaw Nation general election, the ballot deadline for which was extended July 20 by the Tribal Legislature from July 27 to Tuesday, Aug 3. Ballots are due by 10:30 a.m. that day, with ballot tabulation slated to begin at 11 a.m.
With the three incumbents who face challengers abstaining from the vote, legislators extended the ballot deadline owing to technical issues with the distribution of ballots. The Chickasaw Nation general election is conducted entirely through absentee ballots, and no hand-delivered ballots are accepted.
Pontotoc District Seats 1 and 2, as well as Pickens District Seat 4 are up for election. Pickens District Seat 1, Tishomingo District Seat 1 and Supreme Court Seat 2 were also up for election in 2021, however, those seats’ incumbents drew no challengers.
The Chickasaw Nation Tribal Legislature comprises 13 seats from four legislative districts, with legislators elected to three-year terms. The Chickasaw Nation covers all or parts of 13 Oklahoma counties, with its headquarters located in Ada. The Chickasaw Nation’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 following preview offers an overview of candidates for each of the competitive legislative district races, with information drawn from publicly available sources.
The Chickasaw Times’ special election issue features a Q&A from each candidate, as well as a map breaking down Chickasaw citizen voter registration by state. Of 38,837 registered Chickasaw voters, 21,469 (or 55.3 percent) live in Oklahoma. Another 16.8 percent live in Texas, and 6.8 percent live in California. Chickasaw Nation citizens living outside of the tribal boundaries may choose their voting district and can only change districts once.
Pontotoc District Seat 1 race
Toby Perkins (incumbent)
Profession: Perkins is the director of corporate development at LegalShield.
Experience: Perkins first was elected to the Chickasaw Nation Tribal Legislature in 2011. He served as chairman of the finance committee from 2012 to 2016, as legislative secretary from 2016 to 2018 and as chairman of the Chickasaw Nation Tribal Legislature from 2018 to 2020. He is currently chairman of the education committee and a member of the human resources, land development, health care and hunting, fishing and land management committees.
Platform: On Perkins’ website, he addresses the needs of Chickasaw Nation elders, youth and citizens as a whole. For elders, he supports the implementation of social services and programs. For youth, he supports the funding of education programs.
“I will continue to work with the administration to realize the goals of every Chickasaw child receiving a quality education and achieving their full potential, every elder to be well cared for and living a quality and independent life, and every Chickasaw who desires to work is employed and able to provide a safe and secure home for his or her family,” Perkins says on his website.
Monty E. Stick
Profession: Stick has been employed by the Chickasaw Nation since 2021.
Experience: Stick has not served in elected office before.
Platform: If elected, Stick’s main goal is to “put an Indigenous view in drafting and implementing government policy, and to enhance the many great programs in existence,” according to the Chickasaw Times special election issue.
In a long Facebook post, Stick wrote about the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma SCOTUS ruling, stating that “(Chickasaw Nation citizens) can and will coexist with all Oklahomans.” He also wrote that he would like to see a new justice system implemented, “one that doesn’t require money in order to fight for rights or to be proven innocent.”
Stick says further down in the post that “(the Chickasaw Nation) government thinks it can do whatever it wants to Chickasaw citizens and they feel untouchable. We are denied and turned away everywhere we turn. They act like citizens don’t have power. I want to change that. Our sovereignty is inherent through the people, not the government.”
Profession: An experienced businessman, Walker outlined his professional history in a May 27 Facebook post. He is currently the president of American Indian Chamber of Commerce, president and CEO of Four Winds Strategy Group LLC, and director of tribal relations for Tribal Diagnostics LLC.
Experience: Walker has not served in elected office before.
Platform: In a June 8 Facebook post after filing his candidacy, Walker wrote: “This ability to write our direction, while forging new opportunities of prosperity, health, education, and housing for all Chickasaws begins today.”
In the Chickasaw Times special election issue, Walker listed “items to accomplish” if he were to win the seat:
- Progressive economic development and increased job opportunities for Chickasaws.
- Increased opportunities for our Chickasaw-owned businesses in Oklahoma and at-large.
- Expand Chickasaw adult and youth entrepreneurial programs that create successful new contributions to our communities
- Expand elder programs that will meet your needs.
- Support health, cultural, education and housing programs through meaningful dialogue with all leadership.
Pontotoc District Seat 2 race
Nancy Elliott (incumbent)
Profession: Elliott retired as an educator after 26 years of experience teaching in Ada Public Schools.
Experience: First elected in 2009, Elliot has held Pontotoc District seat 2 for four terms. She currently serves as chairwoman of the finance committee.
Platform: On Elliot’s website, her platform priorities include “quality and accessible health care, elder services, educational opportunities, youth programs, diversification of tribal businesses and other opportunities for Chickasaws to thrive.”
On her Chickasaw Nation legislative page, Elliot believes in and will work for “services that build strong individuals and strengthen families.”
Profession: Gore’s personal Facebook page states he is self-employed and that he has 15 years of service with the Chickasaw Nation.
Experience: In 2015, Gore ran for the Pontotoc District Seat 1, losing out to current incumbent Toby Perkins.
Platform: The Chickasaw Times special election issue says Gore wants “to provide a fresh new point of view into issues, programs and services that the Chickasaw Nation currently have. He also intends to continue to provide quality health care, housing, youth programs, and employment for the Chickasaw people.”
In a June 7 Facebook post, Gore laid out his platform priorities.
“My agenda is to increase services that are already being offered and utilized,” he wrote. “My priority is to bring more awareness to issues like foster care, more specialists in areas of health that our native people often are diagnosed with, housing, more assistance during the loss of a loved one, and enhanced preservation of our culture.”
Pickens District Seat 4
Shana Tate Hammond (incumbent)
Profession: Hammond is council director at Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma.
Experience: Hammond was elected to Pickens District Seat 4 in 2009 and re-elected in 2012, 2015 and 2018.
Platform: “I will continue to support programs that financially assist our elders and programs that allow our citizens to further their educational endeavors,” Hammond wrote in the Chickasaw Times special election issue.
Hammond’s goals, according to her legislative page, are to “educate the citizens of the Chickasaw Nation of the services available, work to maintain up-to-date medical equipment and facilities for our health clinics, (and) work on expanding services for at-large citizens.”
Wanda Blackwood Scott
Profession: Scott is self-employed.
Experience: Elected to the Legislature in 1995, Scott was ousted by Hammond in 2009. She served as the Legislature’s chairwoman in 2002 and 2003 and as chairwoman of the legislative committee. She unsuccessfully ran for Pickens District Seat 2 in 2014.
Platform: In the Chickasaw Times special election issue, Scott listed her goals if elected to Pickens District Seat 4:
- Participate in a tribal government that is open, people-oriented, fiscally responsible and responsive to the needs of Chickasaw citizens.
- Improve and enhance health care facilities and programs and educational opportunities for all Chickasaw citizens.
- Support the progressive nature of the Nation while preserving the Chickasaw culture and traditions, especially the Chickasaw language.
- Increase land base.
- Improve and enhance health care facilities and programs.
- Increase diversified economic enterprises.
- Work with senior citizens.
Links: Scott does not appear to maintain an online presence.
For the Pickens District Seat 1, incumbent David Woerz of Ardmore received no challengers and will retain his position.
In the Tishomingo District seat 1, incumbent Scott Wood of Tishomingo received no challengers and will retain his position.
Supreme Court seat 2 incumbent Linda English Weeks of Newcastle also received no challengers and will retain her position.