Choctaw spokeswoman says tribe looking forward to casino vote

Published 3:18 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians looks forward to a November referendum on a proposed tribal casino in Jackson County, a spokeswoman says.

“As an elected official, Chief (Phillip) Martin has always placed great faith in voters and the ability of people to do what is in the best interest of their communities,” the spokeswoman, Chassidy Wilson, said in an e-mail.

Wilson also repeated Martin’s promise not to build the $375 million casino if voters in this coastal county reject the development, which would be built on Mississippi Highway 57 just north of Ocean Springs city limits and south of Ocean Springs Road and Interstate 10.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“(Martin) has from the beginning said that the people of Jackson County, not the Harrison County casinos, should make this decision and the tribe will abide by their decision,” Wilson wrote. “The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians wants to continue and expand its partnership with the people of Jackson County. This referendum will determine if the people of Jackson County feel the same.

“The tribe has been a corporate citizen and employer in Jackson County for nearly a decade. As we have said from day one, we want to make a major investment in further developing the land we already own — but only if the people of Jackson County want us there. That is why we requested a nonbinding referendum,” she said.

The tribe suggested a November 2008 vote, but only because presidential election years have the “highest voter turnout,” Wilson said. However, she said the tribe is not against an earlier referendum.

“It is clear the leadership of Jackson County would prefer to address this issue sooner, though,” Wilson wrote. “Certainly, that is their decision to make.”

County officials noted that besides giving their opinion on Choctaw gaming, Jackson County voters will also cast ballots for state and county offices.