Tribal Government & News

Tribal voters elect Kennedy, Tuomi and George

09.15.2015 Brent Merrill Tribal Council, Elections

Tribal voters re-elected Tribal Council members Cheryle A. Kennedy and Jon A. George and newcomer Brenda Tuomi was elected to fill the seat of outgoing Tribal Council Secretary Toby McClary, who did not run after serving two terms.

Tribal Council election results were released following a re-count at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, when the official numbers were posted on the door of the Tribal Community Center.

Kennedy, who has served five consecutive terms on Tribal Council, received the most votes with 459 or 14.646 percent of the total votes cast.

“I’m very serious about our culture and our traditions and our well-being. That is the backbone of our Tribe.” said Kennedy. “What I believe has held us together is our culture and our belief in ourselves. We are here with a purpose. We were intended to be here and every fiber of us is going to fight to stay here, and that comes from those traditions and those values.”

Grand Ronde voters elected Tuomi to her first Tribal Council term with the second most votes at 439 votes or 14.008 percent. Tuomi becomes the 45th person elected to Tribal Council since the Tribe was restored in 1983.

Tribal membership also re-elected George to his second consecutive term with 434 votes or 13.848 percent of votes cast.

Former Tribal Council member and Tribal Elder Steve Bobb Sr. missed being elected by two votes when he finished with 432 votes.

Former Tribal Council member and Tribal Elder June Sherer finished fifth with 428 votes, which was only six votes from being elected.

First-time nominee Tammy Garrison received 339 votes, former Tribal Council member Kathleen Tom received 315 votes and candidate Ann Lewis garnered 288 votes.

Total eligible voters in this year’s election were 3,972 and 1,151 ballots were cast for a 29 percent turnout. Each Tribal member could vote for up to three candidates.

“That is down 145 votes from last year,” said Election Administrator Penny DeLoe.

A total of 110 Tribal members voted in person this year at the Tribal Community Center in Grand Ronde.

“That was down 25 from the year before,” added DeLoe.

A total of 2,540 ballots were mailed to eligible voters and only 1,041 of those ballots were returned and accepted.

DeLoe said five ballots were rejected because they lacked a signature and 19 ballots were rejected because the signature on the ballot did not match the signature on file with the Election Office.

DeLoe said 58 ballots were returned as undeliverable and the Election Committee registered four voters on Election Day.

“This was my fifth year,” said Tuomi. “To actually see it felt very unreal. It felt like something had come to fruition that I had worked five years for. Something that I was so passionate about was finally going to come true.

“I was very excited and happy, but I also realize it is a big responsibility and that I have a huge learning curve ahead of me.”

Tuomi said she will focus on being independent and being objective.

“I really believe, and I have said this all along, a strong Tribal Council is what is going to allow us to encourage each other,” said Tuomi. “That’s really going to be my number one goal. I really want to focus on unity.”

George said his re-election campaign was “tense” this year, but despite that he had a peaceful feeling. He said he will focus on doing things that are good for all Tribal members. He said he will concentrate on the economics of the Tribe and that he will continue to try and create local jobs.

“I just want to be the same person as I was before and I’m not going to change,” said George. “I’m the same person now and I will be the same person 20 years from now.”

George said he sees the need to gain support for his ideas.

“If you can’t get support for your good ideas then they remain that – just good ideas,” said George. “We have to find a balance and I totally respect the other eight opinions in that. That will be a good starting point.”

George said in order to have respect for ideas you have to be respectful.

“Hopefully that is important to all of us,” said George.

Kennedy said she believes knowing Tribal history and treating the Grand Ronde Tribe as a living history will be important now and in the future.

“We have to know our ways because I believe that there are coming times when that knowledge will get us through some real tough times not just as Native Americans, but as just people on this Earth,” said Kennedy. “Wherever I’m at I’m always thinking of ways that can be helpful to us. I believe the council has to have the passion to keep those issues at the forefront.”

Kennedy said she will focus during the next three years on the well-being of Tribal children.

 “I think about our children,” said Kennedy. “I think about the development of those children and their place in our Native American society.”

Kennedy said she wants the children to be proud of their Grand Ronde heritage.

Kennedy, Tuomi and George will be sworn in at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Tribal Council Chambers.