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Leech Lake election recount confirms Jones' victory

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CASS LAKE - Carri Jones' victory in last week's Leech Lake Tribal Council election was confirmed after a recount this week.

Jones picked up two votes in the recount, conducted Tuesday afternoon by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, paving the way for her to be the tribe's first female chairperson.

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The recount brought Jones' vote total to 1,337, compared to 1,330 for incumbent Arthur "Archie" LaRose.

"We're all excited to see what happens" once Jones assumes the tribe's top post, said Steven Howard, executive director for the Leech Lake Band.

Frequently, not much gets done in tribal government leading up to an election because the outcome isn't known, he said.

While Jones won in the recount, it might be some time before a transition takes place.

Howard said both LaRose and incumbent District III representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird, who lost his re-election bid to LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks III, have filed formal protests to the results.

Staples-Fairbanks III picked up an additional vote in Tuesday's recount to give him 920, compared to Whitebird's 891 votes. Whitebird received two more votes in the recount.

Neither Jones nor LaRose could be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Because there's no automatic recount, LaRose and Whitebird both asked for Tuesday's recount.

Now the losing candidates can appeal, which they did Tuesday, and hearings are planned Friday and Monday before a Minnesota Chippewa Tribe election judge.

For the full schedule of the appeal process, visit online at

www.llojibwe.org/gov/election.html.

Jones, 32, becomes the youngest person to win Leech Lake Band's top tribal position.

"It's time for new leadership," Jones told the Pioneer last week. "It's time for my generation to start taking over. I feel I have a lot to offer. I'm thankful and proud to make this mark in Leech Lake's history."

Jones said she decided to run for chairwoman because of the state the tribe is in financially. She graduated from Bemidji State University with degrees in accounting and finance and has worked in tribal government for 12 years. She has been a financial officer for the band for the last three years.

"I base all of my decisions on finance," Jones said earlier. "I think that's the backbone of a great organization. I know all of the band's financial background, so I think that's a huge step up for me."

With Leech Lake voters selecting Jones, four of the six bands comprising the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes are led by women.

The other women are:

E Marge Anderson is the chief executive for the Mille Lacs Band.

E Karen R. Diver is the chairwoman for the Fond du Lac Band

E Erma Vizenor is chairwoman for the White Earth Band

CASS LAKE - Carri Jones' victory in last week's Leech Lake Tribal Council election was confirmed after a recount this week.

Jones picked up two votes in the recount, conducted Tuesday afternoon by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, paving the way for her to be the tribe's first female chairperson.

The recount brought Jones' vote total to 1,337, compared to 1,330 for incumbent Arthur "Archie" LaRose.

"We're all excited to see what happens" once Jones assumes the tribe's top post, said Steven Howard, executive director for the Leech Lake Band.

Frequently, not much gets done in tribal government leading up to an election because the outcome isn't known, he said.

While Jones won in the recount, it might be some time before a transition takes place.

Howard said both LaRose and incumbent District III representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird, who lost his re-election bid to LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks III, have filed formal protests to the results.

Staples-Fairbanks III picked up an additional vote in Tuesday's recount to give him 920, compared to Whitebird's 891 votes. Whitebird received two more votes in the recount.

Neither Jones nor LaRose could be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Because there's no automatic recount, LaRose and Whitebird both asked for Tuesday's recount.

Now the losing candidates can appeal, which they did Tuesday, and hearings are planned Friday and Monday before a Minnesota Chippewa Tribe election judge.

For the full schedule of the appeal process, visit online at

www.llojibwe.org/gov/election.html.

Jones, 32, becomes the youngest person to win Leech Lake Band's top tribal position.

"It's time for new leadership," Jones told the Pioneer last week. "It's time for my generation to start taking over. I feel I have a lot to offer. I'm thankful and proud to make this mark in Leech Lake's history."

Jones said she decided to run for chairwoman because of the state the tribe is in financially. She graduated from Bemidji State University with degrees in accounting and finance and has worked in tribal government for 12 years. She has been a financial officer for the band for the last three years.

"I base all of my decisions on finance," Jones said earlier. "I think that's the backbone of a great organization. I know all of the band's financial background, so I think that's a huge step up for me."

With Leech Lake voters selecting Jones, four of the six bands comprising the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes are led by women.

The other women are:

- Marge Anderson is the chief executive for the Mille Lacs Band.

- Karen R. Diver is the chairwoman for the Fond du Lac Band

- Erma Vizenor is chairwoman for the White Earth Band

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Steve Wagner
Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and swagner@gfherald.com. Prior to joining the Herald, Wagner worked at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He also previously worked at newspapers in the Twin Cities and Iowa.
(701) 780-1104
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