Eva Clayton has defeated incumbent Mitchell Stevens to be the fourth president of the Nisga’a Lisims Government and the first woman to hold the post.
In balloting conducted Nov. 2 with results released early last night, Clayton received 836 votes to 640 for Stevens.
Lisims government elections are held every four years and this one was a rematch between the two with Stevens winning in 2012 with 741 votes compared to 557 for Clayton.
Clayton comes to the top job with considerable experience from years on the Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) village council in the Nass Valley, including time as the village’s chief councillor.
And in the years leading up to the signing in 2000 of the Nisga’a land claims final agreement providing land and governing powers in the Nass Valley, Clayton was often the only woman among the core of Nisga’a negotiators involved in the talks.
Stevens comes from Laxgalts’ap (Greenville) and was first elected to the Lisims president’s position in a 2010 byelection made necessary by the death of Nelson Leeson.
Under his leadership, the Lisims government signed a number of economic development agreements with mining, hydro-electric and other companies to provide income for the Lisims government and jobs for Nisga’a citizens.
That list included a deal with BC Hydro to build the Northwest Transmission Line through Nisga’a lands and with Prince Rupert Gas Transmission, the subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines that would build a natural gas pipeline through Nisga’a lands to feed the proposed Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas plant on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
Both agreements, however, drew criticism from some segments of the Nisga’a Nation for environmental and other impacts.
Also defeated in this election was Kevin McKay, another longtime Lisims government figure who also played a key role in the 2000 Nisga’a land claims agreement.
He lost his Lisims chairperson position, secured in 2012 by acclamation, to Brian Tait who received 926 votes to McKay’s 859.
Corinne McKay was returned as the Lisims secretary-treasurer, taking 1,188 votes to 697 for the only challenger, Arthur Mercer.
Willard Martin was chosen among five candidates to be the chairperson of the council of elders, the fourth executive position within the Lisims government.
Nisga’a voters also chose chief councillors and council members for the four village governments in the Nass Valley.
Also chosen were two representatives each from the Nisga’a urban locals in Terrace, Prince Rupert and Vancouver. They represent those locals within the Lisims government assembly.