Incumbent Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and incumbent Deputy Chief Bryan Warner fought off three challengers each and have been reelected for a second term, according to unofficial results of Saturday’s general election that were released early Sunday morning. Meanwhile, three Cherokee Nation Tribal Council elections are headed to a runoff July 8, while five other council seats were decided Saturday.
The 2023 Cherokee Nation general election saw a 21.7 percent increase in voter turnout compared to 2019. Out of the roughly 78,400 registered voters within the Cherokee Nation, nearly 16,800 people voted in Saturday’s principal chief election, a marked increase from the 13,795 voters who cast ballots in 2019.
The unofficial results do not include challenged ballots. The results will be considered official after they are certified by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission. The deadline to request a recount is set for Wednesday, June 7. Elected officials are expected to be sworn in on Aug. 14.
Owing to term limits, Hoskin and Warner will be ineligible to run for their current positions again until 2031.
Four more years for Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Despite facing three challengers critical of his first term as chief, Hoskin garnered 10,556 votes (62.9 percent) and avoided a runoff election. Hoskin’s margin of victory was even higher than when he was first elected in 2019 with 57.51 percent support.
No other principal chief candidate even came close. Cara Cowan Watts finished second with 4,008 votes (23.88 percent). District 3 Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire (9.97 percent) and David Cornsilk (3.25 percent) received 1,673 votes and 546 votes, respectively.
“I’m really pleased with the results, and I think it indicates that the Cherokee people are approving of the direction we’re going,” Hoskin told the Cherokee Phoenix. “That, I think, validates a lot of the work we’ve done the last four years, so we can build on that. So I feel really good this evening.”
Hoskin told the tribal newspaper that he hopes to “do what we can to unify the Cherokee Nation.”
“Cherokee people are always going to have differences of opinion, but I think coming out of this race, we can focus on what the Cherokee people expect us to do,” he said. “I think we all have a role in that whether we are serving in elected office or not.”
Deputy Chief Bryan Warner also wins reelection
Closely mirroring his running mate, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner also won reelection outright with 10,300 votes (61.54 percent). In 2019, Warner had been elected with 8,060 votes.
Finishing second with 4,901 votes (29.28 percent), David Walkingstick earned nearly 900 more votes than Watts, his principal chief running mate. Walkingstick ran for principal chief in 2019, but he was disqualified over alleged campaign violations.
Meredith Frailey, who ran for deputy chief in 2019 as Walkingstick’s running mate, received 1,147 votes (6.85 percent), while Bill Pearson received 389 votes (2.32 percent).
Districts 1, 3 and 8 heading to runoff election
With no single candidate in Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Districts 1, 3 or 8 earning more than 50 percent support, those three races will head to a July 8 runoff election.
The District 1 runoff will be between Sasha Blackfox-Qualls and Dale Lee Glory, who received 658 votes (44.46 percent) and 578 votes (39.05 percent) respectively. They finished ahead of candidates Trae Ratliff (10.47 percent) and Brian Jackson (6.01 percent). The current District 1 councilman, Rex Jordan, was ineligible to run again owing to term limits.
The six-candidate Tribal Council District 3 race will also go to a runoff. Lisa Robison Hall received 484 votes (43.33 percent), while the runner-up, Sara Drywater-Barnett, received 322 votes (28.83 percent).
Joseph Tali Byrd, a former chairman of the Quapaw Nation, came in third with 114 votes (10.21 percent). First elected as Quapaw Nation chairman in 2020, Byrd won reelection to that position in July 2022 and also filed to run for Cherokee Nation Tribal Council just seven months later. However, Byrd resigned as Quapaw Nation chairman in April after he became the focus of a recall effort.
Other Cherokee Nation Tribal Council District 3 candidates receiving votes Saturday were Dyllon Fite (7.43 percent), Brandon Girty (6.71 percent) and Brian Speake (3.49 percent).
In District 8, Codey Poindexter and Jillian Decker finished atop a seven-candidate field and will head to the July 8 runoff. Poindexter earned 314 votes (39.3 percent), while Decker received 164 votes (20.53 percent).
John Teehee (10.89 percent), Jerry Don Hardbarger (7.76 percent), Timothy Fishinghawk (7.63 percent), Troy Littledeer (7.51 percent) and Jon Minor (6.38 percent) also received votes in the District 8 race.
The current councilman for District 8, Shawn Crittenden, was ineligible to run again owing to term limits.
District 6 incumbent Daryl Legg wins second term
With 854 votes (76.18 percent), incumbent District 6 Tribal Councilor Daryl Legg was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term. Steven Russell and Dustin W. Bush received 211 and 54 votes, respectively.
District 12 and 13 incumbents win by landslides
Incumbent District 12 Tribal Councilor Dora Patzkowski won reelection with 570 votes (80.97 percent). With 517 votes (79.42 percent), incumbent District 13 Tribal Councilor Joe Deere also won a second term.
District 12 candidate Crystal St. John and District 13 candidate Ed Phillips both received 134 votes.
District 14 to be represented by Kevin Easley Jr.
With Kevin Easley Jr. won the open District 14 Tribal Council race with 846 votes (74.93 percent). Warren L. Murray and Carrie Ann Vargas received 190 and 93 votes, respectively.
The current councilman for District 14, Keith Austin, was ineligible to run again owing to term limits.
Incumbent Julia Coates wins at-large Tribal Council seat
Receiving 2,621 votes (72.62 percent), incumbent Julia Coates won a second term on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.
No other candidate came close. James Smay finished second with 443 votes. Jared Coody and Craig Hood received 350 votes and 195 votes, respectively.