Quapaw Nation citizens elected a new vice chairman and voted to retain two of three Business Committee incumbents in Saturday’s annual election, according to unofficial results. Vice Chairwoman Callie Bowden chose not to run for reelection after she was nearly removed from office in a special General Council meeting in March.
Quapaw Nation citizens also voted for a new chairwoman earlier this month to replace former Chairman Joseph Tali Byrd, who resigned in April.
With 191 votes (43 percent), Sonny Glass finished atop a six-candidate field and won the open vice chairperson seat, despite failing to garner more than 50 percent support. The Quapaw Nation utilizes a plurality voting system, meaning candidates must merely receive at least one more vote than their opponents to win elections.
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Glass was previously elected to the Business Committee in 1997. He served for nearly a year before being appointed as tribal administrator by Chairman Ed Rodgers. He has worked for the Quapaw Casino Agency for the past 15 years, first as a licensing agent and now as a compliance supervisor.
Beth Romick-Blalock finished second in the vice chairperson election with 81 votes (18.2 percent), and Virginia Mouse came in third with 71 votes (15.9 percent).
Mary “Heather” Dismuke (14.6 percent), Amy Panther-Kvistad (4.9 percent) and Grant Schalk (3.2 percent) also received votes in the vice chairperson race.
The election results are considered unofficial until certified by the Quapaw Election Committee. If no challenges or recount requests are brought forward, the results are expected to be certified Wednesday, July 26.
Glass is expected to be sworn in as vice chairman at the next scheduled Business Committee meeting Aug. 19. The Business Committee is led by the tribe’s chairperson — now Kathryn “Wena” Supernaw — and includes the vice chairperson, secretary-treasurer and four other committee members. All Business Committee members serve two-year terms.
The Quapaw Nation Reservation spans 13,000 acres across northeast Ottawa County in the far northeast corner of Oklahoma. The reservation’s continued existence was functionally affirmed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in 2021 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma in 2020.
Business Committee incumbents win reelection
Three Business Committee member positions were up for election this year, but only two of the three incumbents running managed to retain their seats. The winners received the three highest vote totals out of eight candidates.
Business Committee members Linda Davis and Larry Mercer won additional terms, while Business Committee member Michelle Newton lost to challenger Joey Giveswater-Smith.
Davis, Giveswater-Smith and Mercer received 324 votes, 218 votes and 205 votes, respectively. Newton came in fourth, receiving 180 votes, and Mick Wilson came in fifth, receiving 116 votes. Carolyn Button Nott, Melissa Wesley and Abigail Logan received 93 votes, 49 votes and 47 votes, respectively.
First elected in 2019, Newton served two consecutive terms on the Business Committee. Mercer and Davis were serving the unexpired terms of former Business Committee members Jeremy Olsen and Zack Turley, whose seats were left vacant in 2022.