The race was extremely close Tuesday for an open seat on the Ute Tribe's governing Business Committee. After the ballots were counted and re-counted, former Business Committee member Ruby Atwine Black was announced the winner by a six-vote spread.
Black received 58 votes to Smiley Arrowchis' 52 votes. Two of the ballots were spoiled and had to be destroyed.Larry Cesspooch, public relations director for the tribe, said approximately one-third of the eligible voters of the Whiteriver Band participated in the general election.
Black, 59, will fill the remaining three years of the unexpired term of former Business Committee member Luke Duncan, who resigned in June for "health and other reasons." Duncan had served one year of his second consecutive four-year term.
Black was first elected to the Business Committee in 1977 and served four years as tribal chairwoman. She was elected for a second term but served only two years before resigning due to a move out of state.
She has previously worked for the tribe as vice chairwoman for various programs, as director of the first community health program on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation, and as a member of the Phoenix Area Indian Health Board for seven years.
Black said she will work hard for her people and do the best job she can. "I want to familiarize myself with what has been happening. I have a perception of what I want to do. It's going to be hard work with the situation the tribe is in now."
The tribe is facing revenue declines, disputes among elected leaders and further litigation surrounding its jurisdictional rights.
Black is expected to be sworn into office effective Sept. 12. She joins Business Committee members Francis Poowegup, Stewart Pike, Wendell Navanik, Floyd Wopsock and Ronald Wopsock.