The Southern Ute Indian Tribe will hold a run-off election to decide final candidates for three Tribal Council positions: chairman and two council seats.
The date for the run-off election has not been released by the tribe. According to unofficial general election results, Southern Ute tribal members favored new candidates over incumbents for the council positions.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe declined to comment about the election.
The Tribal Council manages and regulates economic, land, water and mineral assets – which, for the Southern Ute tribe, means managing a multibillion-dollar economy.
In addition to working closely with the federal government, council members govern 16 departments, the general welfare of tribal members and the tribal justice system, among other duties, according to the tribe’s constitution.
Seventeen candidates competed for council positions this year. Five members aimed to be the next chairman, a seat held by Christine Sage since December 2017.
Council member Lorelei Cloud received 180 votes out of 440 cast in the chairman election. Melvin Baker received 128 and Sage received 52 votes.
The unofficial results from the Nov. 6 election were scheduled to be certified Monday. The tribal government had not publicly released any updates about the results as of Friday.
The run-off election will be between Cloud and Baker for a three-year term as chairman.
Cloud has been a council member since 2015, serving as vice chairman and treasurer. In a candidacy letter to the Southern Ute Drum, she emphasized transparency, her gratitude for the opportunities the tribe offers its youth and gathering input from community members through regular town hall meetings.
“I promise with my whole being to honor every member and will be a model of care and transparency,” Cloud said in her letter.
Baker has spent nine years on Tribal Council, as acting chairman and vice chairman. He was also tribal housing director for five years. He raised questions about the tribe’s plans regarding housing affordability, COVID-19 response, health care and advocating for the tribe on intergovernmental projects, such as Lake Nighthorse south of downtown Durango, in his candidate letter.
“Having nine years of experience, I feel that I am ready to take on the challenge of running for the chairman of our tribe,” Baker said in his letter.
Twelve candidates put their names in for the two council seats held by council members Cheryl Frost and Cedric Chavez.
With 847 total votes cast in the council election, Frost and Chavez received 35 and 71 votes, respectively.
Stacey Oberly, coordinator of Ute language and culture, took the lead with 161 votes. Linda Baker, former Southern Ute Museum director, followed with 94. James Olguin, former chairman, received 86 votes; Lindsay Box, tribal council communications specialist, received 79.
Tribal members will vote between those four candidates in the run-off election for three-year terms on council.
[email protected]An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect year for which Christine Sage became chairman. She has held the seat since December 2017.