LUMBERTON — The chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners now wants to be chairman of the Lumbee Tribe.
Raymond Cummings intends to seek the tribal leadership position held by Harvey Godwin Jr., who is in his first three-year term as chairman. A tribal chairman can serve only two consecutive terms.
The next tribal election is scheduled for Nov. 13. Candidates can begin filing on Aug. 27. Filing ends at 5 p.m. on Sept. 7. Winning candidates will be sworn in in January.
When asked Thursday by The Robesonian, Cummings said he will not resign from the Board of Commissioners if elected tribal chairman. But he would resign from his position as director of Transportation with the Public Schools of Robeson County.
As for his ability to effectively perform both elected positions, Cummings said he would “cross that bridge when we come to it.”
In information provided to The Robesonian, Cummings said he is a lifelong member of the Philadephus Community, where he lives with his wife, Betsy, and their children, Raymond Foy, Robert, Aryssa Webb, Erica and Braxton.
Cummings served as The University of North Carolina’s director of Student Affairs for 14 years. He has served 19 years as director of Transportation for the Public Schools of Robeson County. Cummings has served on the Board of Commissioners for 22 years.
He said a former tribal chairman, the late Jimmy Goins, endorsed his candidacy.
“Jimmy Goins tapped me on the shoulder many years ago as he knew I would stand up and work diligently to make quality of life better for everyone if given the chance,” Cummings said in a statement. “I am proud and honored that Goins family stands with me today as I step into my campaign to follow Jimmy Goins and his service to the Lumbee People as tribal chairman.
“When I first entered politics, I wanted to make a difference. I have remained in politics for that same reason. When I stop being able to speak for those who have no voice or when I become blind to the needs of those I represent, I will step down as an elected official.”
Cummings said he has made mistakes as an elected official.
“Often times I am spending more time thinking about other folks and not attending to my personal responsibilities,” he said. “Or I am being so moved to provide opportunities that I have missed that some connections might be too close to me personally.”
Cummings said the Lumbee people deserve greater accountability, expanded services and economic development opportunities.
“As tribal chairman I will bring greater accountability,” Cummings said. “I will expand services to children, families and elders. I will build more houses than any tribal chairman before me so that the Lumbee may have safe homes and places to grow stronger families.
Furthermore in building those homes I will put Lumbee people to work helping our own and buying materials from all Lumbee businesses in Lumbee land that sell them and not just a select few.”
Cummings pledged to continue his decades of supporting veterans and being an advocate for community health care.
“Finally, I will always be an approachable leader who knows that leading is first and foremost about serving,” Cummings said. “My heart is a kind heart and you can’t reflect who the Lumbee are without being kind.
“We knew that kindness was needed 25 years ago when I served in helping to write the Lumbee Tribal Constitution. We still need that kindness today in our tribal governance.
In order to do all these things, I need your support and most importantly your prayers.”
Cummings said he will not be a divisive candidate “because my first day in office will not be to mend bridges but it will be to lift all Lumbee people.”