Members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes are reminded to vote in the special election this Saturday, July 7. The Tribal Chairmanship and a seat on the Tribal Council are open. Chairman Dennis Patch and Council Member Valerie Welsh-Tahbo were recalled from office in a special election April 28.
The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Polling stations are at the Tribal Offices at Second Avenue and Mohave Road and at the CRIT Head Start facility in the Parker Valley.
The following candidates have been certified by the Colorado River Indian Tribes Tribal Council for the CRIT Special Election to be held July 7.
Chance Fisher, Richard Armstrong, Dennis Patch, Jimmy Alcaida, Woodrow Sharp, Wendell Goodman Jr. and Dennis Welsh Jr.
Tribal Council (one seat):
Tommy Lee Drennan, Charles D. Duckey, Lori Ann Knighton and Valerie Welsh-Tahbo.
Candidate platforms can be found online at the Manataba Messenger Facebook page and at www.parkerpioneer.net.
Following the election, the Tribal Council will meet at 9 a.m., Monday, July 9, to certify the election results and install new Council Members.
The special election came about 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 extra water for development locally.
In the recall election, Patch and Welsh-Tahbo were the only ones to be recalled. The other council members kept their seats. The margin to remove Patch was just two votes.
In published reports, including a statement sent to Tribal members in September, 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 rundown system of irrigation canals operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Tribes have an annual allotment of 660,000 acre feet of Colorado River water, which is more than the State of Nevada. They also have the highest priority, which means they will be the last to be cut in a shortage.