By AMBLE SMOKER
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Junaluska Leadership Council (JLC) held the candidate forum for the Painttown Tribal Council candidates on Tuesday, May 26. Each candidate was given an opportunity to present their platform, two standard questions, and then they were given randomly-selected questions following those.
Incumbent Tommye Saunooke thanked the community for the opportunity to serve as the Painttown Council member over the last six years. She said, “As you go through life, you must remember it is a privilege to serve our people. Personal integrity is vital because leadership is built on trust.”
Incumbent Terri Henry thanked and commended the JLC for conducting the forums. She provided the audience with a brief narrative of her experience which included stints with the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. She said, “I learned a lot about budgets and tribes across the country. That gave me some insight into this Tribal government as I always brought my Tribe with me.”
What are your thoughts on the minors fund distribution?
Saunooke: “There should be a lot of discussion and planning. We need to begin to determine how to implement these staggered terms and payments. This needs to be done first before a definite plan is put in place.”
Henry: “It’s a fantastic idea. The reason why is because of the tax consequences and we see too often the negative impact the distribution in one lump sum makes to some folks. We can create an opportunity for you all (referring to the JLC) to make the decision on when you want to receive your payment.”
- What are your thoughts on a Tribal Constitution?
Saunooke: “I’ve not seen the final draft (from the JLC), but I believe every Tribe needs a constitution.”
Henry: “I support it wholeheartedly. Since I’ve been on Council in 2009, I’ve sponsored two pieces of legislation that were getting at a Tribal Constitution. We are in the process where the current Tribal Constitution committee is reporting back to Tribal Council in June. I’m really excited to see what they’re presenting to us.”
- If you are elected to Tribal Council, what will you do to preserve our language?
Saunooke: “We need to implement it in all the public schools where we have our kids going continue with what we’ve started.”
- Why did you decide to run for Tribal Council?
Saunooke: “Because I love people.”
- What morals do you find important? How does this qualify you to hold this position?
Henry: “Honesty and personal ethics are the highlights. When you’re an elected official, you live in a glass house. It’s important for us to live our lives as true to who we are and represent ourselves in a dignified and honorable way. Honor and trust is a very high mark for me.”
- What do you think our community could do about our lack of foster homes on the Reservation?
Henry: “We have to enact some laws in order to make sure we have standards that are met for folks who find themselves in a foster home situation. We have to protect our people, even the least amongst us who can’t protect themselves. As Tribal leadership, we have that responsibility to do.”