PEMBROKE — With the Lumbee Tribe’s annual Tribal Council elections three months away, the tribe’s elections board now has a new chairman.
Sheila Beck-Jones was elected on Friday by the board’s five members to replace Carvicous Barfield. Barfield was elected the board’s vice chairman and Mable Revels was elected secretary.
“I am up for the challenge and looking for teamwork from the board, council members and tribal administration to get positive results,” said Jones, who is serving her second year as a member of the Board of Elections. “It is going to take teamwork to provide tribal members with the elections services they deserve.”
Jones, a resident of the Saddletree community, is the Human Resources manager for the MKS Group, a construction company based in St. Pauls. She worked for the Robeson County Department of Social Services for 24 years and for the county’s Board of Elections during election times.
“My work experience has taught me to listen and use what I have been told in a positive way,” she said. “I am here to listen to the council and administration and use the information to produce something positive.”
On Wednesday, Jones was to meet with leaders of the Tribal Council and administration to discuss funding for the election — which is estimated to cost about $28,000 — and other issues, including finding an office for the Board of Elections. The board currently has no office.
Jones said that she does not foresee any funding problems similar to those that hindered last year’s election process.
“I really think with everyone working together there will be any problems,” she said.
Jones said that to increase voter participation in the election she hopes to initiate a voter registration campaign to both register voters and educate tribal members about the election process.
“I don’t remember a time when the tribe held a voter registration campaign,” she said. “… I want to encourage instead of discourage voters.”
Jones also said that the Board of Elections has started putting together some policy to regulate how the board conducts business.
“We have always followed the tribe’s constitution, but there has been no specific board policy,” she said. “This is a big step for us.”
Jones said the new policy will address such issues as Board of Elections members not attending meetings and procedures for letting candidates know after ballots have been counted when an election has been certified.
This year’s tribal elections are being held on Nov. 18, with polling sites, still to be determined, to be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. There is no one-stop voting in the tribal election process.
The candidate filing period for this year’s elections begins Aug. 25 and continues through Sept. 12. Seats up for election include: District 2, Back Swamp, Fairmont and Smyrna; District 3, Lumberton, West Howellsville and Clybourn Pines; District 5, Oxendine and Prospect; District 6, Raft Swamp and North Pembroke; District 7, South Pembroke and Union; District 11, Hoke County; and District 12, Scotland County, Maxton and Alfordsville.
The filing fee for a council seat is $250.