Robert (Bobby) Deschampe to be the new Grand Portage Tribal Council Chairperson
Jun 12, 2020 05:57AM
Bobby Deschampe. Submitted Photo
By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - June 12, 2020
The polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9 at the Community Log Building for the Grand Portage Tribal Council primary election. Once the votes were counted, Robert (Bobby) Deschampe had won enough votes to become the next Tribal Council Chairperson.
Candidates running for Tribal Council Chairperson were Beth Drost (Incumbent), Earl Johnson and Robert Deschampe.
Drost received 120 votes, 41 cast at the community log building, and 79 absentee ballots. Johnson got six votes, two at the community log building plus four absentee, and Dechampe received 151 votes, 86 cast at the community log building plus 64 absentee votes.
Toby Stephens, who chaired the Grand Portage Election Board, said Deschampe’s margin of victory in the primary was enough to secure the council chairperson seat.
“All that is needed is 50 percent plus one percent to win. Bobby received 54.15 percent of the votes.”
Following the unexpected death of long-time tribal chairperson Norman Deschampe, Beth Drost won a special election last July to become the first woman to hold the tribal council chairperson’s title.
The Grand Portage Community Log Building served as the polling station for the Grand Portage Primary Election. All of the Minnesota Governor’s COVID-19 rules for keeping social distancing, keeping a limited number in the polling place, etc. were followed to the letter. Toby Stephens, who chaired the election board, said it took a lot of work to set everything up, but it was worth it to keep everyone safe. She said some folks waited outside in their vehicles to find out who the top vote getters were, and added, “It was an exciting night.” Photos courtesy of April McCormick
With the win, Bobby Deschampe now holds two titles. He is currently serving as the District 1 Cook County Commissioner. Just when Deschampe will begin serving as the tribal council chairperson isn’t known at this time, said Stephens.
Committee Person at Large
Five people competed for a top-two spot in the Committee Person at Large seat: Esther “Bess” Deschampe, Rob Hull, Eric Pehrson, Rick Anderson (Incumbent), and Marie Spy.
When the absentee votes and community log building votes were added together, Rick Anderson received 114, Marie Spry 72, Rob Hull 53, Eric Pehrson 25, and Esther “Bess” Deschampe 13.
The top two vote-getters, Anderson and Spry, will now move on to the general election held this August.
Stephens said the results are unofficial, but he doesn’t expect anything to change. “Candidates have three days to ask for a recount, but I don’t foresee that happening.”
Serving on the election committee with Stephens were Jason Burnett, clerk, Vivian Carlson, teller, and Larry Manthey, who was the alternate.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephens said the vote totals were about the same for this year’s primary as for the last five primary elections.
Due to the COVID- 19 practices, the Grand Portage Election Board set safety rules for voters. Each voter had to wear a facemask. If they didn’t have one, one was provided for them. No more than three voters were allowed in the building at one time; with the four-election board members, one election service staff and two cleaning staff, that added up to ten people in the room at any one time.
Floor space was marked off to demonstrate the six feet of social distancing requirements.
Voting stations were cleaned before each voter used a polling station, said Stephens, and pens were provided and sanitized after each use. Hand sanitizer stations were also available for use, he said.
Five tribal council members hold office. There is the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary/Treasurer, and two Members at Large.
Elections are held every two years for half of the official positions.
The Grand Portage Tribal Council is the governing body of the reservation. It provides for the needs of the people with health care, social services, education, jobs, housing, public safety, and more.
To read the original story and see related reporting, follow this link to The Cook County News Herald website. https://www.cookcountynews-herald.com/articles/robert-bobby-deschampe-to-be-the-new-grand-portage-tr...