A 91-percent turnout in the June 12 Tonto Apache Tribal Council election was a true vote of the people, said Ivan Smith, the new chairman at his swearing-in ceremony on Saturday.
Smith, along with his vice chairman, David K. Davis, and councilors, Louise Lopez and Lanell Hooke were sworn into office by Tribal Judge Tao Eptison Saturday, June 19.
The four candidates beat challengers incumbent Vivian Burdette for chairperson; Jeri Johnson DeCola, Casilda Johnson and Ferrell Hoosava for vice chairperson; and Nathaniel Campbell, Wally Davis Jr. and Ernest Engle for the two council seats.
Numerous family members and friends, as well as representatives from other tribes, including Vincent Randall, former chairman of the Yavapai Apache in the Verde Valley, attended the ceremony.
"It was the biggest voter turnout we have ever had," said Sabrina Campbell, secretary for the Tribal Council.
In past elections only about 20 percent of the Tonto Apache's eligible voters participated.
The service was opened with a prayer by Tonto Apache Elder Polly Davis, and also closed with a prayer, in the Apache language, by Randall.
"We are going to make plans together," Smith said. "When something is accomplished, it will be because of the whole council, not just me or other individuals."
He said in the past, the council has often been forced into taking a reactive role. His plan is to change that approach.
"We are going to be a proactive council," Smith said.