Tribal Chief Election A Week Away

For a second time in two months, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will be casting ballots for chief of the tribe Sept. 6..

The regular election was held June 14,. Then a runoff between incumbent Beasley Denson and challenger Phyliss Anderson July 5 resulted in Anderson winning.

But because of alleged voting irregularities in the June 14 elections, all the results for chief and two council seats were thrown out. Now new elections are being held in those three races.

Anderson and Denson are candidates for chief again, along with Shirley Berg.

Just over a week ago, Denson invited Anderson and Berg to a debate. Anderson declined.

"It was something that he was going to sponsor," said Anderson. "If there had been someone to sponsor it neutrally, then I may have agreed to it."

Throughout the course of the campaign and while meeting with tribal members at community gatherings, Anderson says she has made it clear that she has serious concerns about the way tribal administration is handling business.

"We have to tell tribal members the truth about our financial matters and that has not been happening," Anderson said.

However, according to Miko Beasley Denson, the tribe has nothing to hide. Days after the July 5 runoff, the FBI raided the offices of Pearl River Resort and allegedly took away documents and computer hard drives.

Since then, reports have surfaced that Moody's Investors Service downgraded $200 million in securities borrowed by the tribal resort's development enterprise to junk bond status.

"We have to work with our creditors, the bond holders, as well as the banks," said Anderson. "I feel that refinancing is not going to be an easy task, but it's something that's doable. It's something we must do and will do."

If elected, Anderson says she will work to strengthen the relationship the tribe has with state and federal officials, while severing its ties with others such as Mercury Gaming and the Titan Agency.

Mercury Gaming is based out of Atlanta. The Titan Agency is its marketing arm. In recent years the tribe has worked closely with the developer to further boost business.

Meanwhile, with elections a week away Anderson says precautions are being taken by all involved.

"I understand that the League of Women Voters has been contracted to come here, by the administration, and so even with that we will have our own poll watchers coming in to watch from our campaign," said Anderson.

Berg is also expected to have poll watchers at precincts next Tuesday. In last month's runoff, Anderson defeated Denson by more than 350 votes.

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