Tribal Government & News

Tribe holds third Candidates Forum via the Internet

07.28.2022 Dean Rhodes Elections

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

For the third consecutive year, the Tribe held the annual Tribal Council Candidates Forum using the Zoom teleconferencing program because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, but at least this year some Tribal members were allowed to attend in person in Tribal Council Chambers because of its better technology.

Starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, challengers Reyn Leno and Brenda Tuomi joined Tribal Council incumbents Denise Harvey and Kathleen George for a 93-minute forum that attracted approximately 40 viewers. Incumbent Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. is not running for re-election, ending 18 years of service on the Tribe’s governing board.

General Manager David Fullerton handled moderator duties and Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez watched the clock to ensure candidates did not go over their allotted time.

After three-minute opening statements, each candidate had two minutes to answer about 15 previously submitted questions from the membership.

Questions covered a wide range of topics, including candidates’ best previous contribution while serving on council, board and committees each candidate currently serves on, the Tribal Council role in building back traditions, the most important component of the Tribal Council oath of office, support for Tribal Council term limits, thoughts about disenrollment and the lessons learned from the Microgreen investment debacle.

Following the questions, each candidate was allotted three minutes to deliver a closing statement.

This year’s field of four candidates is the smallest slate since the Tribe’s Restoration in 1983. There were only five candidates in 2020 and 2022.

Harvey, who was first elected to Tribal Council in 2013 after five unsuccessful campaigns, is seeking her fourth consecutive three-year term. She finished first in 2013 and 2019, and third in 2016. She has accumulated 2,981 votes in her eight runs for Tribal Council.

George is seeking her third consecutive term on Tribal Council. 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.

Leno 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.

Tuomi served on Tribal Council from 2015 to 2018. She finished second in 2015 and lost out on re-election by 24 votes in 2018.

The Candidates Forum was recorded and will be posted at under the Government tab and then Videos.

Tribal voters also can read candidate statements in the July Tilixam Wawa that was mailed in early July and listen to Smoke Signals’ podcast interviews with each candidate at

In addition to electing three Tribal Council members, voters are being asked four advisory vote questions on the Sept. 10 ballot. They are:

  • Should the Tribe develop Tribal-owned housing for Tribal and nonTribal employees of the casino and the Tribe as well as those needing a first-time apartment?
  • Should the Tribe build a standalone library building in the Grand Ronde community for Tribal members?
  • Should the Tribe amend the Constitution to hold Tribal Council elections at a time of the year other than September (e.g. In November like state/federal elections)?
  • Should the Tribe create a webpage portal or mobile app for Tribal member-only access for communication?