The members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes have decided to re-elect Keith Moses as the Tribal Vice Chairman. In the Tribal election held Dec. 1, Moses placed first among the five candidates on the ballot. In unofficial results posted at the Tribal offices and the “Manataba Messenger” Facebook page, Moses received 286 votes.
The other candidates were Valerie Welsh-Tahbo (221 votes), Jimmy Alcaida (167 votes), Teddy Goodman (159 votes) and Estelle Fisher (117 votes).
There were three seats on the Tribal Council up for election. Two incumbents, Johnny Hill Jr. and Granthum Stevens, were re-elected. Hill received 351 votes while Stevens received 289. The third seat went to newcomer Anisa Patch, who received 364 votes, which is the most any candidate received.
The field for the three Council seats was crowded, with 12 candidates competing. The other candidates included Herman “T.J.” Laffoon (275 votes), Loriann Knighton (255 votes), Timothy Welsh-Stevens (243 votes), Amanda Barrera (224 votes), Charles “Nobahe” Miller (187 votes), Jennifer Corona (180 votes), Sylivia “Cindy” Homer (176 votes), Amber Van Fleet (163) and Erin Yava (71).
The regular election came near the end of a year that included a recall election April 28 of all council members and Tribal Chairman Dennis Patch. Patch was recalled by a very narrow margin, 469 to recall and 467 to retain. He won back the Tribal Chairmanship at a special election July 7, where he received the most votes (331) of the seven candidates in the running for the position.
One Council Member, Valerie Welsh-Tahbo, was recalled on April 28. At the July 7 special election, Tommy Drennan was elected to her seat.
The recalls came after two Tribal members, Tim Stevens-Welsh and Amber Van Fleet, took out recall petitions against Patch and all the members of the Tribal Council. At issue were the efforts of the Tribal leadership, including Patch, to lease some of the Tribes’ annual Colorado River water allotment to outside interests.
Stevens-Welsh and Van Fleet claim water is CRIT’s greatest resource, and discussions regarding leasing the water were done in secret and without the knowledge or consent of Tribal members. They said the Tribal leadership should be looking at how to use their water for development locally.
In published reports, including a statement sent to Tribal members in September 2017, Patch said leasing CRIT’s water would be a benefit to communities around Arizona. He added the funds received from leasing water would be used for economic development on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. He said the needs of the Tribes, including environmental protection, would be an important part of any agreement.
Stevens-Welsh and Van Fleet were both unsuccessful candidates for Tribal Council in the Dec. 1 election.