Tribal Government & News

Nine vying for Tribal Council seats

06.24.2018 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council, Elections, General Council

Incumbents Cheryle A. Kennedy, Jon A. George and Brenda Tuomi will be seeking re-election and face six other candidates in the 2018 Tribal Council election.

Tribal Council nominations occurred on Sunday, June 24, in the Tribal Community Center and Tribal Election Day is Saturday, Sept. 8.

Challengers will include Victor Cureton, Kristina Helfrich, Brent Merrill, Peter Grout, Jonathan R. George and Steve Bobb Sr.

Kennedy, 70, is the current Tribal Council chairwoman. She is seeking her seventh consecutive three-year term on Tribal Council and was nominated by Logan Kneeland.

Jon A. George, 57, is the current Tribal Council secretary and is seeking his third consecutive term. He was nominated by Jerry George.

Tuomi, 58, is seeking re-election for the first time and was nominated by Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier.

Steve Bobb Sr., 69, served on Tribal Council from 2007-13 and is the chairman of the Tribal Veterans Special Event Board. He was nominated by Tribal Elder and former Tribal Council Chair Reyn Leno.

Merrill, 57, has worked for the Tribe in several positions and has run for Tribal Council thrice before in 2013, 2009 and 2008. He was nominated by Tribal Elder Joyce Kirk.

Jonathan R. George, 52, works for the Tribal Human Resources Department as a compensation/HRIS coordinator and previously worked at Spirit Mountain Casino. He was nominated by Amber George.

Peter Grout, 43, is a surveillance technician at Spirit Mountain Casino and was nominated by former Tribal Council member Val Grout.

Kristina Helfrich, 42, is assistant manager at Legends restaurant at Spirit Mountain Casino and was nominated by Tribal Elder Deitz Peters.

Cureton, 66, is a current member of the Tribe’s Election Board and will be replaced by alternate Lori Sterling for the duration of the election season. He was nominated by Tribal Elder Ed Larsen.

Jonathan R. George, Grout, Helfrich and Cureton are all making their first runs for a Tribal Council seat.

Starting Monday, July 23, and running through Thursday, Aug. 30, the Election Office in the Tribal Community Center, 9615 Grand Ronde Road, will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a half-hour lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The office can be reached at 503-879-2271.

For eligible voters’ convenience, blank signature verification forms will be placed in a hanging basket outside the Elections Office door. Completed forms with a notarized signature or legible copy of ID, including your signature, (driver’s license, member ID card, passport, etc.) attached need to be mailed to the Election Board office for processing. The form will not be processed unless it has been notarized or includes a legible copy of ID and your signature attached.

Ballots will be mailed to voters with verified signatures on Wednesday, July 25. Tribal members may create a verified signature card at any time up to and including Election Day on Saturday, Sept. 8.

The Grand Ronde post office is no longer open to accept your ballots on Saturday, Sept. 8. For those members intending to walk into the post office with your ballot, you will have ensure that you turn it in before the post office closes at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7.

Candidate statements are due to the Publications office by 5 p.m. Friday, July 6, and will be featured in the next edition of Tilixam Wawa, scheduled to be mailed out the following week.

Candidates are limited to 600-word statements and candidates must submit their statements via e-mail to or on a compact disk or memory drive. Hand-written statements are not allowed to avoid transcription errors. Late statements will not be accepted for any reason.

Candidate statements run “as is,” meaning the Tribe’s Publications staff will not edit the submissions in any way other than to ensure they do not exceed 600 words in length.

Candidates also can contact Smoke Signals photojournalist Michelle Alaimo at 503-879-1961 or to schedule a time to have a portrait taken for Tilixam Wawa, or candidates can submit their own photo. Deadline for photos is also 5 p.m. Friday, July 6.

2018 also marks the second year in a row that political ads will be allowed in Smoke Signals. Candidates can buy up to a cumulative full page of advertising in the July 15 through Sept. 1 editions of the Tribe’s independent newspaper with the largest permissible ad restricted to a half-page in any one issue.

A Candidates Forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, in the Tribal gym in Grand Ronde. Questions for Tribal Council candidates may be e-mailed to Please include your name and roll number.

Ballots will be counted at the Community Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, and election results will be posted that evening on the Community Center’s front doors.

At the end of the special meeting, Bob Duncan, Kaileighann Taylor and Garry Williams won $100 door prizes and Julie Duncan, Joyce Kirk, Dorothy Shortt, Kalene Contreras and Bobb won the $50 door prizes. Bobb donated his winnings back to the veterans.