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By Chuck Haga, Forum News Service, Published April 17 2013

Spirit Lake primary sees heavy turnout

GRAND FORKS – Duane Jackson, vice chairman of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe, lost his bid for another term representing the Mission District in Tuesday’s primary election, and two tribal members who have clashed with Chairman Roger Yankton Sr. will face off next month in the Fort Totten District.

Jackson did not finish first or second in a six-candidate field Tuesday, said Doug “Chuck” Longie, head of the election board.

Robert Littleghost and Mardel Lewis finished first and second and will advance to a runoff election May 6, Longie said.

He did not have exact vote totals when he was reached away from his office Wednesday, but he said the results were certified and reported to the Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent at Fort Totten.

In the Fort Totten District, Clarice Brownshield and Leander “Russ” McDonald advanced to the May 6 runoff, finishing first and second, respectively, in a field of six.

Brownshield, the incumbent council member, was suspended by Yankton this month. Days later, she convened a meeting at Fort Totten to accuse Yankton of corruption, saying she had turned tribal documents over to the FBI.

McDonald, who lost the 2011 tribal chairman race to Yankton, was chosen by members attending an emergency general assembly Sunday to become chairman, replacing Yankton. McDonald participated in a “swearing in” ceremony Monday but later agreed with Yankton that a change in leadership required a recall election. A petition seeking an election is circulating.

Barb Jackson, the incumbent secretary-treasurer, led voting for that office. She will face Nancy Green, who finished second among seven candidates in the primary.

Longie said the turnout “was quite heavy” for a primary, with close to 1,000 members casting ballots.

“With everything going on here, people wanted to say something,” he said.