PEMBROKE — Businessmen from Pembroke and Fairmont were the first two candidates to enter the race for chairman of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina on Monday, but there were no filings for any of the seven seats on the 21-member Tribal Council.
Harvey Godwin Jr. owns Two Hawk Employment Services in Lumberton, the business he founded 20 years ago. Before starting the business, he worked for 23 years in the grocery store business, starting as a store manager and working his way up to head buyer for Hills Food Stores.
A lifelong resident of the Moss Neck community, Godwin holds a pre-law degree from Pembroke State University, now The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He was the campaign manager for the late Julian Pierce when Pierce was a candidate for a Robeson County Superior Court judgeship in 1988.
Godwin is president of the Robeson Community College Foundation board of directors and is a member of the Lumber River Workforce Development Board. He is a past president of the Lumberton Rotary Club and a past member of the board of directors for the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce.
“As your tribal chairman, I will use my 20 years of experience in job training and economic development to create jobs and address unemployment among our people,” Godwin said in a statement. “I will work with the Tribal Council to create an economically prosperous community that will attract industry, new local businesses and will economically empower the people of our tribal nation.”
Godwin said he would establish a “community talking circle” to serve as a forum for tribal members to address and receive feedback on problems facing the tribe. He said that he is committed to transparency and will conduct regular “Lumbee Think-Tank Roundtables” with representatives of faith-based organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and cultural preservation groups.
“These roundtables will address issues such as identifying cultural assets and reviving our cultural identity,” Godwin said.
The second candidate, Lynn B. Jacobs, of Fairmont, ran unsuccessfully for the position in 2012 when tribal members elected Paul Brooks, the current chairman.
Since 2006, Jacobs has served as the senior pastor for Orrum-based Crying Spirit Ministries. In his spare time, he serves as a teacher of the traditional ways of the Lumbee people.
A Robeson County native, Jacobs attended Green Grove, Fairgrove and Orrum schools. He served 21 years in the U.S. Army.
Jacobs says he was among a handful of native Americans from the region to be accepted into the U.S. Military Academy Prep School at West Point. Already a combat-proven non-commissioned officer at the time of his acceptance, he said he chose to remain a non-commissioned officer where he could better impact the training of young soldiers.
Jacobs served in Vietnam as a long-range recon patrol leader; was a junior college instructor at Fort Jackson, S.C.; negotiated government to government contracts for support and security for over 150,000 military personnel and their families; and provided educational/career counseling, crisis intervention, and family counseling to soldiers and their families.
After serving in the military, Jacobs returned to Robeson County. He attended Johnston and Robeson community colleges, Columbia College, and has a doctorate degree in Philosophy and Divinity.
It is still uncertain if Brooks will be eligible to seek re-election. The tribe’s Supreme Court will hold a hearing at 6:30 tonight at the Tribal Housing complex on N.C. 711 to consider a petition submitted by Brooks asking for what constitutes a “term.”
Brooks has been elected twice, to a one-year term and then a three-year term. He argues that the one-year term should not be counted against him.
The filing period continues through Sept. 18. The election is scheduled for Nov. 17.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.