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Grand Portage primary election postponed to June 9

If it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa would today be announcing the results of its tribal council primary election.

However, due to health and safety concerns, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe adopted a resolution on March 24 to postpone the March 31, 2020 primary elections for its members.

According to a memorandum from the MCT, the primary election for the 2020 election will be held June 9, 2020 and the general election will take place on August 18.

Any band members who have already voted by absentee ballot will be counted in the June 9 primary.

MCT President Cathy Chavers said in the memo, “Unfortunately this postponement will add confusion to our election process, but for the safety of our tribal members it was necessary.”

Following the MCT decision, Grand Portage Tribal Council Secretary/Treasurer April McCormick issued a memorandum to Grand Portage Band members, explaining it stance on the election.

McCormick wrote that the Grand Portage election board members told the Tribal Council they were prepared to conduct the primary on March 31, with precautions regarding the spread of COVID-19.

McCormick wrote that she and Tribal Chair Beth Drost, as the MCT representatives for Grand Portage, advocated for the primary to proceed as planned.

McCormick said the Mille Lacs Band of Lake Superior Chippewa joined Grand Portage in asking that the primary proceed as planned. However, she said other Bands felt they were not ready. Grand Portage and Mille Lacs were voted down, and the MCT directed that the election dates be changed.

McCormick expressed appreciation to the Grand Portage election board. The Tribal Council appoints Band members to that board. For the 2020 primary and general elections those serving are Toby Stevens, chair; Jason Burnett, clerk; Vallen Cook, teller, and Vivian Carlson, alternate.

McCormick added, “I would like to especially thank the dedicated election board members for being so proactive in ensuring Board member and voter health and safety by developing protocols for the polling place and handling materials.”

In the Grand Portage primary, candidates for chairperson are Robert “Bobby” Deschampe, Earl Johnson, and Beth Drost (Incumbent).

Candidates on the ballot for committeeperson at large are Marie Spry, Eric Pehrson, Rick Anderson (incumbent) Ester “Bess” Deschampe, and Rob Hull.

The Grand Portage Tribal Council is the governing body of the reservation and is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The primary is being held in accordance with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution, which calls for a primary if there are multiple candidates for the same seat.

The Grand Portage Tribal Council consists of a chair, vice chair, secretary/treasurer, and two committee members. All positions are four-year terms.