Tahlequah Daily Press

March 6, 2013

Councilors ask court to reconsider redistricting ruling

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Five Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilors have filed a motion for reconsideration in the tribe’s supreme court, asking the court to review its redistricting ruling handed down in late February.

Last Wednesday, the court upheld a redistricting measure, passed by a majority of the council, that provides 15 voting districts within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.

Those filing the latest motion include Buel Anglen, Jack D. Baker, Julia Coates, Lee Keener and Cara Cowan-Watts.

Under the new map, each district will have its own councilor, with two at-large positions, for a total of 17 council slots.

The current District 5, which includes Rogers and Tulsa counties, would lose a seat to a new district being created to cover Ottawa, northern Delaware and a portion of Mayes counties.

The seat being eliminated is held by Anglen, who would have been up for re-election this year.

According to the latest motion, appellants assert many issues have arisen in the redistricting process that have not been addressed, and will leave future districting plans “with uncertainty as to the rules.”

“The [Tribal] Council, at the Feb. 28 Rules Committee meeting, voted, despite some apparent procedural irregularities, to move the boundary between District 9 and 10,” states the motion. “Given the votes in committee, this amendment is likely to pass at the next regular council meeting on March 11.”

The document states those filing the motion are prepared to offer proof a former tribal councilor considering entering the 2013 election was moved from District  9, facing an incumbent, to District 10, which is unrepresented as a result of the change made in committee.

“This raises a new equal protection issue, because other council members have been disadvantaged by [the redistricting act],” states the motion. “[We] ask for reconsideration and clarification to evaluate the effect of the changed boundaries, insure the correct decision was made here and that the council has clear guidance for future districting decisions.”

A general election to fill nine Tribal Council posts will be held June 22. The council positions are based on the new 15-district map. Filing opened Monday, March 4 and runs through Thursday, March 7.