Anderson unseats Denson
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 11:30 AM
Phyliss J. Anderson unseated incumbent Beasley Denson to win the race for Choctaw Tribal Chief a second time after a July election was thrown out because of alleged voting irregularities with 56 percent of the vote Tuesday.
Anderson will become the first female to lead the 10,000-member Tribe that is headquartered in Neshoba County and employs more than 3,000 people in various business enterprises, including Pearl River Resort.
Anderson polled 2,139 votes to Denson's 1,602, in certified returns. Shirley Martin Berg, a third candidate and newcomer to the election, tallied 76 votes.
In her victory speech at the Neshoba County Coliseum Tuesday night, Anderson thanked her supporters, friends and family for their hard work and encouragement on the campaign trail.
"Today our tribal people spoke for a third and final time," she said. "It's clear our people want new leadership. I thank everyone for their support and perseverance. It has been long eight months and I could not have done it without the support and encouragement of family, friends and supporters.
"To all tribal members, I want each to know regardless of who you supported, I am proud to represent you and my office will always be open. My administration will represent all tribal people. It is a very good day in Choctaw, Mississippi."
Anderson carried the communities of Bogue Chitto, Pearl River, Crystal Ridge, Red Water and Tucker. (See chart, page 12A.)
Denson carried Conehatta, Bogue Homa and Standing Pine.
Anderson has served two terms on the Choctaw Tribal Council as representative from the Red Water community. She has held prominent positions such as secretary-treasurer as well as chair of numerous Council committees.
She has worked in Tribal government for more than 25 years and played an integral role in the Tribe's success story over the past decade.
She draws on a wide variety of experience from serving on a number of governing boards and committees for multi-million dollar enterprises, including those in the Tribal manufacturing, Tribal government contracting, gaming and hospitality industries.
Incumbent Cyrus Ben won re-election in the race for Pearl River Tribal Council.
Ben polled 757 votes; Barry McMillan, 280; Kennith H. York, 112; Hamilton Farve, 74; Cynthia Isaac, 10; Karen McMillan, 33; Samuel Mingo, 6, and Nolan Mitch, 80.
A tie vote has forced a runoff election in the race for a position on the Conehatta Tribal Council.
After receiving 182 votes each in Tuesday's election, Randy Anderson and Jesse Thomas will meet in a runoff election on Sept. 27.
Other candidates in the race included incumbent Troy Chickaway who polled 104 votes; Scottie Dixon, 8; Elray King, 14; Timothy Thomas Sr., 39, and Randolph Williams, 30.
During the campaign, Anderson said, if elected, she would end threats to jobs, provide more transparency and cease the Tribe's business with Mercury Gaming Group, Titan Agency and the Atlanta Braves.
A native of the Red Water community in Leake County, Anderson is married to Ricky Anderson Sr. She is the mother to three, stepmother to four and grandmother to two. She is a graduate of Choctaw Central High School and East Central Community College where she earned an associates degree in liberal arts.
Denson was first elected to the Tribal Council in 1975 and during his five terms he served as both secretary-treasurer and vice chief. He unseated longtime Chief Phillip Martin in 2007 by 211 votes, or 53 percent, to win his first term. Martin died in February 2010 after serving 32 years as Chief. His motto of Choctaw self-determination helped his people rise from abject poverty to to prosperity by employing those willing to work.
This was the second election for Tribal Chief, as results of the first were kicked out by the Tribal Council in July.
Ten candidates challenged Denson on June 14 for the office of Tribal Chief. The election ended in a run-off between he and Anderson on July 5.
The run-off ended with Anderson declared with winner with 55 percent of the vote.
However, on July 8 the Tribal Council heard an appeal over alleged voting irregularities with members deadlocked 8-8 over whether to throw out the first election. Denson broke the tie, throwing out the initial election and subsequent runoff.
Under the Choctaw Constitution, the Tribal Council has final authority on election matters. There is no judicial appeals process.