Godwin Wins Lumbee Tribal Chair

harvey godwinPEMBROKE — Political newcomer Harvey Godwin Jr. defeated Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks in his bid for another term during Tuesday’s tribal election.

In the five-way race for the tribe’s top elected position, Godwin out-polled Brooks, his nearest challenger, by 729 votes, 2,221 to 1,492. Godwin received 41.7 percent of all the votes to Brooks’ 28 percent.

“We developed a great political strategy and stuck to it,” Godwin said late Tuesday, just before unofficial votes showed him the victor. “We went to all of the precincts, not just certain areas. We listened to all of the people.”

Godwin was not ready Tuesday night to say exactly what he plans to do first to make changes in how the tribal government works to address the needs of the tribe’s general membership.

“We’re going to do what we can to bring about unity and a peaceful environment,” Godwin said.

Godwin is the owner of Two Hawk Employment Services in Lumberton. He campaigned on a platform of a new vision for the tribe, saying at a candidates forum in October that he would “bring the spirit of the (tribe’s) constitution” back into the everyday lives of tribal members and the government. He also emphasized keeping tribal members informed about the government’s business.

In a statement this morning, Brooks congratulated Godwin on his victory.

“I want to congratulate Mr. Godwin on his win and I wish him much success in leading the tribe in the future,” Brooks said. “I also want to congratulate the new council members and wish them successful work with Mr. Godwin in the future.”

Others in the race were Terry Collins, an incumbent member of the 21-member Tribal Council who received 1,257 votes; Bobbie Jacobs Ghaffar, the owner of a health care services business who received 252 votes; and Lynn B. Jacobs, a businessman, pastor and expert in Lumbee tribal culture and traditions who mustered 99 votes.

Brooks was almost denied the opportunity to seek re-election based on a provision in the Lumbee Constitution that prohibits an elected official from serving more than two consecutive terms. Brooks has served as chairman since 2011 when he finished out a remaining year of former Chairman Purnell Swett’s term. Brooks was than elected to a three-year term in 2012.

The Lumbee Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Brooks could seek another term, but limited it to only two years. Any of the other candidates, including Godwin, were eligible to serve three years.

According to Sheila Beck-Jones, the tribe’s elections board chairman, Tuesday’s elections went smoothly. She said there were no major problems.

Any protests that candidates want to file have to be filed with the elections board by 5 p.m. Tuesday. The election results will be certified after all protests are heard, Beck-Jones said.

In addition to the chairman’s race, there were seven seats on the Tribal Council filled on Tuesday.

The closest race was in District 9, where Elaine McNeil Collins, with 199 votes, out-polled incumbent Anita Hammonds-Blanks, who earned 197 votes. Hammonds-Blanks can ask for provisional ballots to be counted; they are only counted when they can determine the outcome of a race.

The results in the other districts are as follows:

In District 5, incumbent Bobby Dean Oxendine, with 384 votes, defeated challenger Don Allen Scott, who had 198 votes.

The District 7 seat was won by Reginald Lee Oxendine Jr. with 325 votes. He defeated challengers Alvin John Mercer, 255 votes; Anthony Miller, 165 votes; and Norman “Woody” Sampson, 129 votes.

In District 10, Janet Locklear won 161 votes to defeat Beverly Collins-Hall’s 132 votes.

In District 14, Barbara Rose Lowery garnered 112 votes, defeating Jimmy Hunt, who won 42 votes.

In District 1 and District 4, the races were not contested. In District 1, newcomer Lakisha Spaulding Sweat snagged a seat as a council member, while in District 4, incumbent Jonathan Locklear retained his seat

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