After being recalled in April, Dennis Patch has been returned as Chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. In a special election held July 7, Patch was the top vote-getter in a field of seven candidates for Tribal Chairman. Tommy Drennan was elected to fill the seat on the Tribal Council that became vacant when Valerie Welsh-Tahbo was recalled in April.
According to unofficial results posted at the Tribal offices, Patch received a plurality, but not a majority, of votes for Chairman. He received 331 votes. This is how the votes shaped up for Patch and the other candidates:
Dennis Patch, 331
Woodrow Sharp, 184
Jimmy Alcaida, 137
Dennis Welsh Jr., 122
Richard Armstrong, 76
Chance Fisher, 39
Wendell Goodman Jr., 34
Drennan is a newcomer to the Council. He received a plurality of 314 votes, which was eight more than Welsh-Tahbo, who was seeking to win back her seat. Here are the vote totals for the four candidates for the one seat on the Tribal Council:
Tommy Drennan, 314
Valerie Welsh-Tahbo, 306
Lori Moore Knighton, 254
Charles Duckey, 44
The July 7 election came about following a recall election April 28. Patch and Welsh-Tahbo were both recalled at that election. The vote to recall Welsh-Tahbo was 495 to 441. The vote to recall Patch was 469 to 467, a margin of just two votes.
The Tribal Chairman and all the members of the Council were on the ballot for the recall election. Patch and Welsh-Tahbo were the only ones to be recalled. Vice Chairman Keith Moses has been serving as Interim Chairman.
The Tribal Council will meet Monday morning, July 9, to certify the election results and seat Patch and Drennan.
Two Tribal members, Tim Stevens-Welsh and Amber Van Fleet, began the recall effort in response to efforts by the tribal government to lease some of their water rights to other entities. They said water is precious to the Mohave people, and their greatest resource. They alleged tribal leaders were gambling with their future in planning to lease the water rights. They accused them of acting without the knowledge and consent of Tribal members.
In published reports, 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, most notably to repair the system of irrigation canals operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Tribes’ allotment from the Colorado River comes to 662,000 acre feet per year, which is more than double the State of Nevada’s allotment of 300,000 acre feet. They also have first priority in the event of shortages. The Tribes receive 24 percent of the State of Arizona’s allotment. It’s estimated they could provide 150,000 acre feet per year for off-reservation uses.