Wacoche wins Tahlequah District Run-off
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
TAHLEQUAH - The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Election Board has declared Jeff Wacoche the winner of the Dec. 3 Tahlequah District midterm run-off election.
Wacoche received 91 votes and 55.83 percent of the vote, while Mary Girty had 72 votes for 44.17 percent of the vote.
The results were officially certified Dec. 5.
The forced run-off was a result of the Nov. 5 midterm elections in which neither candidate had captured the 50 percent of the vote required to be declared the winner.
“I am pretty excited. It has been a long road to get to this point. I am relieved that the road is over,” said Wacoche. “The last four months have been a huge deal. It was a lot of hard work and effort. I had the whole family and friends helping me. Unless you ran for office, nobody is never going to know what we have been through. For anybody that was running, they deserve all the respect. It is a tough position to put yourself in.”
Now that Wacoche has been officially elected, he said he is looking forward to creating something “positive” for tribal members.
“I want something positive,” he said. “We tend to be split right now. My goal is to unite the tribe. The word “united” is in our tribe’s name and we do need to unite as one. I know our tribal members are in desperate need of health care, housing, and education assistance. I am looking forward to working with everyone getting those things achieved.”
Wacoche said he reached out to voters through fliers, in-person visits and social media.
“We were handing out fliers. I had my family helping out with the hog fries and chili suppers. We would go door to door and meeting people. I don’t have social media but my family got on there and put stuff on there for me,” he said. “It was just a little bit of everything trying to get folks to meet. My family would post about my campaign pictures and my signs and stuff like that. They were a huge help reaching out to the voters.”
Wacoche thanked all the voters for casting their vote despite the weather.
“I want to thank all the voters that came a braved the weather. It was very cold that day. It was 34 degrees that day. Even for the people who didn't vote for me, I just want to thank them for voting because our ancestors died for that right to vote. We should exercise that right and opportunity.”
Family and friends were also on Wacoche’s list of gratitude.
“I would also like to thank my family and friends. We all just came together,” he said. “They kept me motivated and kept me going. They worked so hard during my campaign.
They were always right there. We did it together.”
For those unfamiliar with him, Wacoche said he wants them to know he is looking forward to “working for the people.”
“I know there's folks out there that don't know me, but I'm just a boy from Briggs,” he said. “My grandma told me that hard work should be rewarded with a good meal and your family at the end of the day. My grandpa taught me to never meet a stranger. My mom and dad taught me to always ask and never take anything unless you need it. I tried to live my life to those lessons. I am very thankful for the people that voted for me. I am looking forward to doing my best and working for the people.”