In a close vote, the Seminole Tribe of Florida selected Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. as its new chairman, replacing James E. Billie, who was ousted on Sept. 28.
Osceola garnered 319 votes — just 22 more than Billie, who ran again after he was unseated following a members’ recall petition and a vote by the tribal council. The petition cited “various issues with policies and procedures,” but tribal rules allow the subject to run for office. Neither Billie nor tribal members have revealed specifics of the recall.
There were 843 votes cast from the tribe of about 4,000, with the remaining 227 going to Manuel Tiger (105), James L. Holt II (105) and Tony Billie (17). The election was Monday and the tribe released the results Tuesday.
Billie served as chairman from 1979-2001, when he was impeached after charges of financial mismanagement and sexual harassment. He again won election in 2011 to the chairmanship and was re-elected in the May 2015, defeating Osceola 45 to 39 percent, with three other challengers sharing the remainder of the votes.
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Osceola, 44, is an entrepreneur who lives on the Hollywood Seminole Reservation. He was previously elected to serve on both the governing Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Board of Directors of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc., which manages most non-gaming business interests of the Tribe.
Osceola will serve the rest of a four-year term that ends May 2019.