There will be a run-off to determine who will lead the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians for the next four years.
There were six candidates running for chief. The top two, former Vice-Chief Beasley Denson, and current Chief Phillip Martin, were separated by only 46 votes after absentee ballots were added to the ballots cast Tuesday. With neither receiving more than 50 percent of the votes, the run-off became necessary.
Phillip Martin was first elected Tribal Chief in 1979. For many people, at least outside of the Choctaw community, the thought of someone besides Martin being elected was not even near the realm of possibility. Newscenter 11 made several attempts to reach Martin for comment, but was unsuccessful.
Denson has said all along that the Choctaw people are ready for a change. He said the vote proves that.
"The strong organization was those Choctaw, members of the tribe, that volunteered to help me," said Denson. "And they had a mission, along with the same mission I have. And I believe it was a strong belief that we've had this current administration for too long.
Denson has said all along that the Choctaw people are ready for a change. He says the vote proves that.
"The main thing is putting Choctaw people first. We're, I think that for a long time we have not practiced Indian preference or Choctaw preference for that matter. And we want to put Choctaw first in all categories of our employment," said Denson.
The date of the runoff has not been set, but must take place within 30 days of the original vote.