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LaRose, Whitebird drop election contests

CASS LAKE - The Leech Lake General Election is officially over.

Leech Lake Chairman Arthur "Archie" LaRose and District III Representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird withdrew their respective election contests Monday.

LaRose lost to Carri Jones in the June 12 general election by seven votes, while Whitebird lost to LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks III by 29 votes.

LaRose and Whitebird withdrew their contests after a pre-hearing conference and a two-hour discovery process. Bruce Baird, who represented the incumbents at the hearing, told Election Contest Judge Richard Osburn the burden of proof was too severe, so the incumbents were dropping their contests.

"Going through the hearing, I still felt pretty good," Jones said Tuesday. "We knew we ran a clean campaign. Afterwards, there was a sense of relief that now we can start working to get Leech Lake in a better direction."

Jones will be the first female to lead the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. She has 12 years experience of working with tribal governments in finance-related roles.

"The first thing I'll do is sit down with the current tribal council and make sure we're all on the same page," Jones said. "I've always said communication is key."

LaRose did not return a message seeking comment.

Staples-Fairbanks has been the deputy director of the Leech Lake Band for the last two years and has also served on the Leech Lake Housing Authority Board of Commissioners for the past four years.

Jones and Staples-Fairbanks will be sworn in to their new positions July 6 at the Leech Lake Tribal Council Quarterly Meeting at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker.