Tribal Government & News

Forum attracts eight of nine candidates

07.29.2016 Brent Merrill Tribal Council, Elections

Slightly less than 40 Tribal members and eight of the nine Tribal Council candidates attended the Tribally-sponsored Tribal Council Candidates Forum held at the Tribal gym in Grand Ronde on Wednesday, July 20.

After Tribal member Veronica Gaston gave the invocation, the forum started when Tribal General Manager Dave Fullerton explained the ground rules.

Fullerton announced that he, Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Martin, Enrollment Specialist Jolanda Catabay and the candidates present met before the forum’s beginning and determined a random order to respond to questions.

Fullerton said that only enrolled Grand Ronde Tribal members would be allowed to submit questions for the candidates and that each candidate would begin the forum with a three-minute introduction. All submitted questions needed to include the member’s name and roll number to be verified by Catabay.

Fullerton said that no questions deemed to be personal attacks would be allowed and that questions submitted had to be something that could be answered by all candidates; there were no questions directed specifically at an individual candidate.

Candidates were allowed two minutes to respond to each question and could address other issues if they had time left over at the end of their answers.

After a sandwich bar dinner, each candidate took turns answering three rounds of questions provided by the membership and then each candidate was given two minutes to deliver a closing statement. The forum took more than an hour and a half to complete.

Candidates focused mainly on their backgrounds and professional and cultural qualifications for a position on Tribal Council in their opening statements. Candidates spoke about the importance of culture, the importance of making sound business decisions and how they saw themselves fitting in at the council table based on their vision for the Tribe and their background and experience. Other than the two incumbents – Vice Chair Jack Giffen Jr. and Denise Harvey -- each candidate is seeking their first term on council.

Questions from the membership centered on enrollment, constitutional elections going forward, youth activities in Grand Ronde, casino improvements, the future of the gaming industry and the funding that comes with that business as well as involving the membership on decisions about important issues.

Membership asked questions about how candidates felt about mandating educational accomplishments to be part of determining trust fund distribution for young Tribal members who gain access to their accounts when they reach 21.

Members wanted to know how candidates felt about the possibility of the Tribe getting into the marijuana business, how candidates feel about participating in traditional ceremonies, how important working relationships with the Willamina and Sheridan school districts are to them and how can families keep their young people from being dependent on the Tribe.

Audio Visual Network Technician Wendell Olson filmed the event for broadcast on the Tribe’s website, where it can be viewed at under the Video tab.

The nine Tribal members running for council include Giffen and Harvey, and challengers Jason Darcy-Chantel, Penny DeLoe, Kathleen George, Monty Herron, Michael Langley, Lisa Leno and Jackie Many Hides. Darcy-Chantel was the only candidate not present for the Candidates Forum in Grand Ronde.

Ballots were mailed to voters with verified signatures on Wednesday, July 27, and are due back by Election Day, which is Saturday, Sept. 10.

Tribal members must be registered to vote and may register by creating a verified signature card at any time up to and including Election Day.

The Election Office, which is located in the Tribal Community Center, is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and closed for lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m. on those days. The Election Office can be reached by phone at 503-879-2271.

Tribal members may vote for up to three candidates to fill three positions on Tribal Council. The top three vote-getters will serve through September 2019.