Tribal Government & News

Harvey, Pearsall and Giffen elected to Tribal Council

09.09.2013 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Elections

The sixth time was a charm for Denise Harvey, former Tribal Mentorship and Workforce Development coordinator, as she received the most votes during the 2013 Tribal Council election.

Harvey, who also has served as chair of the Grand Ronde Gaming Commission for nine years, received 444 votes (13.89 percent of votes cast).

Tribal voters also returned former Tribal Council member Ed Pearsall to office. He received 412 votes (12.89 percent) and will serve his first term on Tribal Council since leaving the council in September 2003 after nine years of service.

And incumbent Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. was elected to his fourth term, receiving 359 votes (11.23 percent).

The other nine candidates were Brenda Tuomi, 320 votes; incumbent Steve Bobb Sr., 309; Brent Merrill, 258; Kevin Simmons, 252; Mark Mercier, 222; Ed Larsen, 212; Kalene Contreras, 160; Lonnie Leno, 139; and Cory Meneley, 110.

Bobb, who served two consecutive three-year terms on Tribal Council, said he will not run again and will concentrate on other projects.

Incumbent Tribal Council member Chris Mercier, who served three consecutive three-year terms on Tribal Council, did not seek re-election, instead opting to attend law school at Michigan State University.

Harvey said during a break at the Sept. 8 General Council meeting that she was surprised to be the top vote-getter in the 2013 field.

"I'm always surprised," Harvey said. "You never know with the Tribal Council elections how it is going to turn out. You can feel pretty confident during the election process, but you never know in the end how it is going to turn out."

In 2012, Harvey missed being elected to Tribal Council by 10 votes, finishing fourth. She finished fifth in 2011, sixth in 2010 and ninth in 2009 and 2008.

Harvey said she thinks the election results reflect an engaged Tribal membership that is seeking some change on Tribal Council.

"I think the people are just wanting some change and definitely that came through," she said. "I think that all of my years of running and my perseverance … I think the membership has a lot of confidence in me and I think the votes show that.

"I think overall, in general, the membership is a lot more engaged in what's going on in the Tribe and paying a lot more attention to what's going on than in previous years. What I found is that people, if you respected their inquiry and you answered their questions, you took their questions and concerns as valuable information, they took it sincerely."

Harvey said she thinks she picked up some Chris Mercier support. He nominated Harvey for Tribal Council on June 30.

"He's been a supporter of mine for the last several years," Harvey said, "so I think he definitely was a big help for me."

Pearsall, who is returning to Tribal Council after a decade absence, said he was inspired to run for Tribal Council again because he thought Tribal leadership had forgotten about the membership.

"I think the membership wanted change," Pearsall said. "I'm more into seeing that our membership gets more. I think council, in my opinion, has gotten lax in helping the membership, especially outside the community.

"I'm here for the membership. I'm here to support the membership. I felt council was losing its direction and my function of getting on council will be that this belongs to the membership. Let's give to them what we can."

Pearsall served three terms on Tribal Council between 1994 and 2003.

Giffen said this term, which will end in September 2016, will be his last on Tribal Council.

"My grandkids at the end of the three years will be playing school sports and I want to enjoy that," he said.

Of the 3,924 Tribal members eligible to vote, 1,205 cast ballots for a 26.9 percent turnout, a 5.5 percent decrease from 2012. It was the first time turnout has dipped below 30 percent since 2010, when 29 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Harvey becomes the 43rd Tribal member to serve on Tribal Council since Restoration occurred on Nov. 22, 1983.

Harvey, Pearsall and Giffen were sworn into office on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Later that day, Giffen was re-elected by Tribal Council to serve as vice chair.