Five candidates in race for Cherokee principal chief

Cherokee, North Carolina (AP) June 2011

Five people have entered the race to become the next principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that a July 7 primary will narrow the field to two candidates, who will face each other in a Sept. 1 general election.

Principal Chief Michell Hicks is seeking a third four-year term.

Also challenging are Mary “Missy” Crowe, an activist on health care, housing and employment issues; Patrick Lambert, executive director of the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission; and tribe public safety director Gary R. Ledford.

Also challenging is Juanita Plummer Wilson, administrator of a Cherokee adult leadership program.

Voters say their main concerns are largely economic, including operation of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, which funds the government and issues payments to the tribe’s 14,000 members.