SIX NATIONS – Chief Bill Montour had this to say after congratulating longtime band Council colleague Ava Hill for her victory was, “I’m Free!”
Montour lost his bid for a third consecutive term as Chief (Councillor) of the Six Nations Elected Council Saturday evening by a mere two votes separating Hill (334 votes) and the incumbent Montour (332 votes).
An electronic voting system was set up to count ballots, calling for a recount would likely produce the same results, although Montour hasn’t announced he would do so.
Hill was glowing and almost in a state of disbelief when the final numbers were announced to around 200 people at the Six Nations Community Hall.
The elected chief for the 56th band council is : Ava Hill pic.twitter.com/LnVtPlMRtn
— Two Row Times (@TwoRowTimes) November 16, 2013
Moments after the vote was called, Chief Montour graciously stood and quickly made his way through the crowd to Hill and gave her a big hug and offered words of congratulations to the new 54th Elected Chief (Councillor) of the Six Nations Elected Council.[hr]
2013 Six Nations Elected Council results
- For chief: Ava Hill, 334; Bill Montour, 332; Bill Monture, Sr., 141; Nathan Wright, 138; Ross Johnson, 107.
- District 1: incumbents Dave Hill and Lewis Staats were acclaimed.
- District 2: incumbent Carl Hill was acclaimed, along with newcomer Terry General.
- District 3: newcomer Sherri Lynn Hill-Pierce, 147; incumbent Roger Jonathan, 100. Also-rans Bruce Montour, 92; and Theda Mae Brant, 60.
- District 4: incumbents Helen Miller, 144, and Wray Maracle, 117. Also-rans Sherry Lee Lickers, 82; and Wayne Garlow, 29.
- District 5: incumbent Bob Johnson, 144, and Darryl Hill, 120, were returned. Also-ran: Hazel Johnson, 87.
- District 6: incumbents Melba Thomas, and Mark Hill were acclaimed.
Turnout: 1,057[hr] Referring to the two main goals he wanted complete for the community as his legacy, the water treatment plant and the garbage disintegrator, Montour said. “They’re all done, and it’s time (to move on). I think more than two terms in this community is more than enough. It’s time for some new ideas.”
So what’s next for Montour? “I’m going to have a holiday,” he said.
“Pretty squeaky,” Hill said, referring to the two votes that separated her and incumbent Chief Montour, as she made her way to the podium to address the crowd.
Six nations has a new chief! Ava Hill who defeated incumbent chief Bill Montour by 2 votes.
— Jim Windle (@JimWindle2) November 16, 2013
Her first order of business at the mic was to congratulate all the candidates including former Chief Bill Montour and fellow district councilor Ross Johnson, but especially the two new faces to throw their hats in the ring in the political ring, William Monture Sr. and Nathan Wright.
She also has words of congratulations for those District Councillors who regained their seats and the one new councilor for District #3, Sherri-Lynn Hill-Pierce.
Besides Chief Councillor Montour leaving office, and the addition of Hill-Pearce, the incoming council will look much like the last one as all councillors regained their seats except Ross Johnson, who relinquished his District #3 seat to run for Chief Councillor.
“I want to thank the Chief [Councillor], Bill, for the hard work he has done over the last six years,” said Hill. “He has done a lot for this community and I know he really cares for this community.”
She then listed her thanks to those who helped her become the second woman elected Chief since the system was put in place in 1924. The first being Roberta Jamieson., whom Hill served with on council.
“I want to thank all my friends, I want to thank those who helped me go around and stuff mailboxes, put up all the signs, I want to thank Mike Miller who was my seconder, and I want to thank all those people who came out to vote for the first time.”
Then she made what could be a Freudian slip which set of an outburst of laughter from the crowd, when she committed to work hard for the community over the next six years.
“Six years?” she laughed along with the rest of the room after noticing her mistake. “Sorry about that, I meant three years.”
When asked if the closeness of the vote scared her, she answered, “No, it didn’t scare me. It’s about the community and the community won.”
She was also asked about the fact that there is only one new councilor, to which she replied, “I am lucky to have Sherri-Lynn Hill-Pierce on council. I hear she’s a real go-getter. I’m looking forward to working with her.”
Hill told the crowd what her first priority is, “Well our first order of business is, we’ve got to fight this legislation the federal government is bringing down on us, particularly on the Six Nations Education Act,” she said. “ We’ve got to talk about education and the kids. The Minister of Educations has come up with this new legislation and he wanted feedback by January so that’s one thing we really have to do.”
“I want to build a good team with council,” she continued. “I want to make sure the work is being balanced amongst councilors so that everybody is carrying their weight. I’ve got a lot of ideas, I just haven’t written them all down yet.”
She also spoke of the work ahead to try and heal some of the longstanding riffs between various sectors of the community.
“I’ve always been talking to people. I’ve got a lot of people to text. I’ve talked to some of the [Confederacy] Chiefs; I’m going to talk to other people like Bill Monture of the Men’s Fire that we’ve got to work together. So I am going to try and pull everyone together. Maybe we need to bring a mediator in. I’ve been thinking about that. We are the largest [Onkwehon:we] community and we’ve got to pull ourselves together.”
Hill says she has spoken to Bill Squire of the Mohawk Workers in the past and intends to re-establish a working relationship with that group as well.
“I think we all want the same things,” she said. “We want health, safety, and prosperity for this community. Let’s sit down and start putting our good minds together.”
Like outgoing Chief Montour, Hill has a pretty impressive political pedigree as well.
She has had a very long and active political life which has taken her across the country in various forms on behalf of both the Six Nations and all Onkwehon:we people across Turtle Island. All these years of making contacts and understanding where people are coming from, she believes, will work in Six Nations favour.ng from, she believes, will work in Six Nations favour.