Tribal Government & News

All three incumbents seeking re-election to Tribal Council

05.31.2023 Dean Rhodes Elections, Tribal Council


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Tribal Council incumbents Chris Mercier, Lisa Leno and Michael Langley will be seeking re-election during the Sept. 9 election.

Mercier, Langley and Leno set new benchmarks for the most votes received in a Tribal Council election in 2020 with each one receiving more than 960 votes each.

Mercier, 47, will be seeking his seventh and potentially final term on Tribal Council and will tie former Chairman Reyn Leno for second longest-serving Tribal member at the conclusion of his term in September 2026 if he is elected again.

“Yes, probably,” Mercier said in an e-mail to Smoke Signals. “I’ve gone back and forth on it all year. A few months ago, I’d have told you my chances were 50/50 of running again. There are a few things, like enrollment and the problems caused by the ’99 amendment, that I’d like to see through, in addition to a few backburner issues.

“Right now though one more term is all I can see doing. I love this job, this community and I feel truly lucky to have served this long. Lucky is probably an understatement. Regardless, I’ve a number of unchecked boxes in my life that are nearly impossible to do while doing this. So should I be here another three years, expect me to start making preparations for the next step in life, and hopefully we will see somebody who will make me confident to step away.”

Langley, 56, will be seeking his third consecutive three-year term on Tribal Council. He has been serving as Tribal Council secretary since September 2021.

“Serving on Tribal Council has been a privilege and honor,” Langley said in an e-mail to Smoke Signals. “I made the decision to run for office over seven years ago and it has been a rewarding while very challenging job. While every candidate has their own ideas and passions, I promised to be objective in my decision making, transparent in my decisions and available to the members. My body of work demonstrates that I have.

“The last six years I have always showed up for the most difficult conversations and decisions. Often, the easiest course is to sidestep these things. After all, each decision we make has the potential to make folks unhappy. Sometimes a single decision leads to folks deciding they want to strike back at you, despite a much larger body of work they support. The national political climate stokes these emotions.”

Langley cited continued work on the General Welfare Exclusion Act and a comprehensive nine Tribes of Oregon plan for economic development as some issues he would like to address in a third term.

“These issues, as well as many others such as mental health, housing, education and, of course, the most challenging of them all, our enrollment files, are not resolved,” he said. “I hope to still have a seat at the table, where one may not always agree with me, but sees that I at least gave everything the attention it deserves. That is why I am running for re-election. There’s still work to be done and the path forward is through respect, cooperation and a willingness to compromise if the end goal can still be achieved.”

Leno, 54, responded to a Smoke Signals inquiry that she also will be seeking a third consecutive term on Tribal Council. She holds the record for the most votes ever received in a Tribal Council election with 1,047 in 2020.

Tribal Council nominations will be held on Sunday, June 25, in Tribal Council Chambers. This year’s election will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9, with new council members being sworn into office on Wednesday, Sept. 13.