By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Chippewa Cree juvenile court counselor Enos Johnson was elected the new tribal associate judge in a special election Tuesday, tribal officials said this morning.
Election board clerk Janice Myers said Johnson won with 96 votes, about 25 percent of the 378 total votes cast.
The counts of the other seven candidates were: Joanne Ahenakew, 69; Jody LaMere, 54; Valerie "Penny" Denny, 40; Geneva Stump, 34; Lily Corcoran, 32; Mike Parker Sr., 28; and Richard "Moldy" Morsette, 25.
"It was a sweat, like you never know how it's going to turn out," Johnson said this morning. "I thank all the people that supported me."
Johnson, 55, was a tribal judge from 1996 to 2000. That year he ran for tribal council and did not win, instead serving as a tribal appellate judge beginning in 2000. He has served as a tribal prosecutor off and on since last year. He also served as an associate judge in 1986 and 1987 after being elected in a special election similar to Tuesday's.
"Since '96 I've been pushing for justice, and a lot of people don't understand the legal due process," Johnson said. "I'm going to see to it that everybody gets equal protection."
He said he would also try to provide new ideas for lowering crime.
"We've got to focus on our juveniles," he said. "We don't have (anything) for juveniles as far as activities other than what the schools provide," he said.
Johnson said he has a good working relationship with Associate Judge Kenneth Gardipee and Chief Judge Gilbert Belgarde.
The turnout Tuesday was unusually low, Myers said, even for a special election, which generally have a lower turnout than general elections.
Barring any protests of the vote, Johnson will be sworn in within seven days. The tribal election board must wait five days for any protests to be odged, so Johnson will probably be sworn in on Monday, Myers said.
The associate judge position has been vacant since Crystal Lavern Denny sent a letter of resignation to the tribal council on Feb. 20 after pleading guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in U.S. District Court on Feb. 14.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI agents discovered in June that Denny had warned a person to "put his stuff away," because the FBI had a search warrant for the person's residence.
Denny, 31, was elected in November of 2000.
Once he is sworn in, Johnson will serve until the general election in November 2004. The primary for that election.