Tribal Government & News

2022 Tribal Council race attracts smallest slate of candidates ever with four

06.26.2022 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council, Elections


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Incumbents Denise Harvey and Kathleen George and two challengers will run for three open seats during the 2022 Tribal Council election, which marks the smallest slate of candidates ever nominated since 1983’s Restoration.

But one of the candidates will not be Jack Giffen Jr., one of the Tribe’s longest-serving Tribal Council members. He is not seeking re-election during the 2022 campaign, ensuring at least one new member on the Tribe’s governing board.

Harvey, who was first elected to Tribal Council in 2013 after five unsuccessful campaigns, will be seeking her fourth consecutive three-year term. She was nominated by Tribal Council member Michael Cherry.

Harvey, 60, finished first in 2013 and 2019, and third in 2016. She has accumulated 2,981 votes in her eight runs for Tribal Council.

George, who will turn 51 on July 5, will be seeking her third consecutive term on Tribal Council. She was nominated by Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy.

She served as director of Spirit Mountain Community Fund beginning in 2011 and finished first in the 2016 Tribal Council election. She secured another council term in 2019 with a second-place finish behind Harvey.

Former Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno, 71, was nominated by Giffen. He served 21 consecutive years on Tribal Council from 1996 to 2017 and also served as Tribal Council chair for five years from 2012 to 2017.

Since leaving Tribal Council in 2017, Leno has mounted two attempts at rejoining the Tribe’s governing board, finishing fourth in both 2019 and 2020.

And former Tribal Council member Brenda Tuomi, who served from 2015 to 2018, was nominated by Tribal Council member Michael Langley. Tuomi, 62, finished second in 2015 and lost out on re-election by 24 votes in 2018.

Giffen, 70, served two terms from 2003 to 2009 and was re-elected in 2010 and has served since then. Come September, he will have served six terms, or 18 years, on Tribal Council.

Giffen will retire as the third longest serving Tribal Council member ever behind current Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, 23 years, and Leno, 21 years.

This year marks the ninth consecutive year of single-digit candidates running for Tribal Council. The last time 10 or more candidates threw their proverbial hats in the ring was in 2013.

This year’s Tribal Council Candidate Forum will be held Wednesday, July 27, and the election will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10.

In addition, Smoke Signals will continue its tradition of interviewing all of the candidates and placing their podcast interviews on