Tribal Government & News

Forum attracts more than 25 attendees to see candidates in action

08.02.2019 Danielle Frost Elections
From left, Victor Cureton, Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr., Reyn Leno, Peter Grout, Tribal Council member Kathleen George, Tribal Council member Denise Harvey and Lewis Younger participate in the Tribal Council Candidates Forum held in the Community Center on Wednesday, July 31. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

By Danielle Frost

Smoke Signals staff writer

More than 25 Tribal members, spouses and children attended the official Tribal Council Candidates Forum held Wednesday, July 31, in the Community Center and heard all seven council hopefuls talk about why they should receive a vote in the Sept. 7 election.

Incumbents Kathleen George, Jack Giffen Jr. and Denise Harvey were joined by challengers Victor Cureton, Peter “Boon” Grout, Reyn Leno and Lewis Younger at a long table where they sat to answer questions.

George is seeking her second three-year term on Tribal Council while Harvey is running for a third term and Giffen is seeking his sixth term.

Leno, who served seven consecutive terms on Tribal Council before retiring in 2017, is seeking to rejoin the governing body after a two-year hiatus.

Cureton and Grout are making their second runs at Tribal Council, although Grout dropped out of the 2018 race before last year’s Candidates Forum was held. Younger is making his first run for Tribal Council.

After forum attendees dined on a meal of teriyaki chicken, steak, rice broccoli salad and macaroni salad, General Manager David Fullerton briefed candidates on the rules.

Questions were drawn randomly from a bowl, with the number of candidates answering each one alternating between three and four. The audience submitted the questions and selected candidates had two minutes to respond.

The 10 questions posed to the candidates covered a wide range of topics, including if they would still serve on Tribal Council if the annual salary was reduced to $30,000 or less, what activities they would provide for Tribal members in the 18- to 54-year-old age group, concerns about transportation to events at the plankhouse off Hebo Road and for Tribal members who don’t have a way to get to work, plans to take better care of Tribal members with drug and alcohol issues, capping Restoration Roll additions, problems they felt were being ignored by the Tribe, an advisory vote question candidates would like to see, knowledge of Native dances and first foods, concerns about climate change and if there is a backup plan in case Spirit Mountain Casino stops being profitable.

Fullerton moderated the event while Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez served as the timekeeper.

Tribal Council members Michael Langley, Jon A. George, Chris Mercier and Steve Bobb Sr. also attended the forum.

The one question that received the same response from all seven candidates was whether they would continue to serve if the salary was reduced, with all of them answering in the affirmative. The other issue that received unanimous support was finding more opportunities to assist Tribal members struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.

The 107-minute forum concluded with each candidate delivering a three-minute closing statement.

The Candidates Forum was filmed by the Tribe’s Information Systems staff and can be viewed by going to the Tribal website at and clicking on the Government tab and looking under the Tribal Council section for “Videos.”

In addition, Tribal members can listen to Smoke Signals podcast interviews with all seven Tribal Council candidates by going to and searching for “Smoke Signals podcasts.”