Tribal Government & News

Leno captures seventh term on Tribal Council as Mercier, Gleason-Shepek also win seats

09.15.2014 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Elections

Tribal voters re-elected Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno to his seventh consecutive three-year term after election results were released on Saturday, Sept. 6.

Leno, who was first elected to Tribal Council in 1996, was the top recipient of votes, garnering 558, or 15.47 percent of the total.

Grand Ronde voters also re-elected Chris Mercier, who took a year off from Tribal Council after serving three consecutive terms from 2004 to 2013.

Mercier, who is attending law school at Michigan State University, received the second most votes with 543, or 15.06 percent. He said before Election Day that he will take a leave of absence from law school if elected.

First-time Tribal Council candidate Tonya Gleason-Shepek received the third most votes with 539, or 14.95 percent. She ran on a slate with Leno and incumbent June Sherer.

Sherer and fellow incumbent Kathleen Tom finished fourth and fifth with 521 votes and 424 votes, respectively. Sherer will end her fourth non-consecutive term on Tribal Council while Tom will end her third consecutive term on Tribal Council.

"I think this year's message was that people want this Constitution supported," Leno said about the election results during the Sept. 7 General Council meeting. "They want strong leadership. They want people to be accountable. … I think there is really a message that membership's expectation for this council is to be strong. The Tribe can only be as strong as the council."

Other Tribal Council candidates were Brenda Tuomi, 351 votes; Ann Lewis, 328 votes; Kevin Simmons, 227 votes; and Cory Meneley, 115 votes.

There were 3,606 votes cast in the election, the most since 2008. Each Tribal voter could vote for up to three candidates on their ballot.

In his candidate statement sent to Tribal voters in July, Leno said that he believes health care is a top priority, as well as investment of Tribal funds.

"We must continue to look for solid investments," Leno said. "The law with respect to gaming is always being challenged and we need to continue to work to diversify and plan for a worst case scenario."

Mercier called for a Tribal constitutional convention, a shift of power from Tribal Council to the general membership and true freedom of information in his candidate statement.

"After 30 years the time is right, and ripe, for us to consider real reform in this Tribe, from the rights of Tribal members to how our diverse nation should be governed," Mercier wrote.

Gleason-Shepek, who has served on the Tribe's Social Services Committee, said in her candidate statement that the Tribe could do better in the areas of health services, budgeting and per capita, enrollment and communication.

"As your Tribal Council representative, your Tribal interests and business affairs will be my No. 1 priority and will receive my full attention," she said in her candidate statement.

Gleason-Shepek becomes the 44th Tribal member to serve on Tribal Council since 1983's Restoration.

Leno, Mercier and Gleason-Shepek will serve through September 2017. They were sworn in to office on Wednesday, Sept. 10. During the swearing-in ceremony, Sherer and Tom were honored for their years of service on Tribal Council with Tribal Pendleton blankets.

Of the 3,919 Tribal members eligible to vote - 18 or older -- in 2014, 1,296 cast ballots for a 33.1 percent turnout, which is an increase of 2.4 percent over voter participation in 2013.