Siyo, nigada. Tselimayi Wilisini dagwodov. Hello, everyone. My name is Jeremy Wilson. I am a candidate for Wolftown Tribal Council. In introducing myself, I am a 28-year old resident of the Big Y community. I have lived in Big Y since 1998. My parents are Juanita Plummer Wilson, and Robert Wilson.
As a candidate I believe it is important that I present a platform to you. This way you can get scope of what I’m about, that I have plans/ideas, and that you know where I’m coming from. Also, you know a little bit about my credential background. In my platform I have laid out a series of areas and ideas that I believe I can touch on, and hopefully accomplish within my first term. I do not want to roll out a long list of issues, and promise you unrealistic expectations. There will be other issues that will arise, and other issues that I will touch base on, and work on as time goes on during my term. But in regards to what I hope to accomplish within a 2-year timeframe, these are areas I would like to focus on, and provide results to you at the end of my term as your Council Member. Allow me to explain why these areas are important to me:
- Term Limits: I believe term limits are necessary to avoid officials getting “comfortable”. The petition that is out for term limits is in a format of 4-years. Although I agree with term limits, I do not believe 4-years is long enough to get things done for the long-term. My proposal is 8-years. 4 two-year terms. This allows the Council Member to learn the process, initiate projects/resolutions, and carry them out for the long-term. Executive will have term limits of 8-years total. Council would have 8-years total. Nobody overlaps the other. With that being said, if we are to have term limits, then we will have to revisit Tribal Council’s retirement package.
As it currently sits, Tribal Council Members can receive a full retirement after 16-years served. They will then earn up to 75% of their last year’s salary. In a span of 4-7 years, they earn up to 21% of their salary. In a span of 8-11 years they can earn up to 44% of their salary. In addition to this, a Council Members spouse is eligible to receive this retirement as well. In the event of death, the spouse will receive a monthly benefit of 1/8 of the salary. The spouse does not have to be enrolled.
I believe this retirement plan needs to be revisit. If Tribal Council is to have term limits, whether it be 4-8 years, then we will have no choice but to revisit. I believe in the event of term limits, Tribal Council’s Retirement Package should be abolished. My alternative proposal to this is allowing a Council Member’s years served on Council, be added to their years served as a tribal employee, and counted towards their retirement if they choose to go back into the workforce after they have exhausted their terms.
- Require a 2-year degree (minimum): There has been some disagreements with this from some of the public, but I want to elaborate why this is important. In today’s society, the average citizen must obtain a degree to go up in the workforce, and make a better living. When you apply for a job, you are required to have certain credentials. Especially for upper management. As an elected official of this tribe. Someone who votes in matters that effect everyone, I believe it is important to also have a level of credentials. Also, college exposes us to how certain areas work, such as finance, statistics, education, politics, social issues, health care, etc. That allows one to be groomed, and better prepared to how life works.
This approach is mostly about preparation. If I go in as a new Council Member, my life has changed. If I have exhausted my time as Council Member, and I do not have a degree, I am only eligible for a Level 3-5 for the tribal workforce. If I have a degree, then I am eligible for a Level 6 and beyond position with the tribe. With that degree, I am better prepared inside and outside the tribe.
- Trainings for Youth: We always preach that the youth are our future. It’s time we make greater investments in our youth. My approach to this is that we invest in trainings and programs that help target youth in High School, freshmen to senior, and prepare them for life. Trainings/Programs such as how to do your taxes. How to invest your big money. How to apply to college. How to run your own business. How to enlist in the military, etc.
These are areas that are going to become real once they graduate high school, and go into the real world. The more time we invest in their time in high school, and prepare them, the better prepared they will be in the real world.
- Invest More Into Education: Education is essential. We have one of the most promising programs around within our Education & Training department. We are very lucky as EBCI members to have this department. To allow the opportunity for students to go to college of their choice for free, be supplied with misc/commute monies, get paid for good grades, graduation bonuses, free computer, etc., we need to make Education one of the most invested programs in the tribe.
- Public Health & Human Services: I currently work with PHHS. This division is one of the most crucial divisions the tribe has. PHHS allows our enrolled members to receive the best services for health, social services, WIC, commodities, family support, elder care, domestic violence, Cherokee Choices, etc. The amount of services from these programs service the EBCI public in a major way. We have to make this division one of our most important and supported investments. Personally I believe areas such as Tsali Care and Domestic Violence are in dire need of improvements and help. I will focus to work with these programs to ensure they get what they need to thrive.
- Improve Housing Programs: There is no doubt the Housing Division needs more attention. Enrolled members constantly struggle with the slow processes in getting their homes built/fixed, and spend years trying to get certain processes approved and accomplished. There needs to be a faster and better workflow for this division. If this tribe can make major projects with the casino get accomplished in no time, then we can make life easier for our enrolled members for their homes.
- Elder Services: I believe we have made some better improvements within our tribal elder services as time has come along. Areas such as Tsali Care and Tsali Manor need greater investment into them. Our elders should always be at the top of the agenda. That will be part of my focus. That they will receive the services they need.
- Drug Epidemic: This area has been a plague within our communities for a long time. It affects every community, and nearly every family. This a matter that is much more than just treatment. It’s time we get serious on Prevention, Treatment, and Post-Treatment. It takes time for recovered addicts to get adjusted to a new life. We have to make sure that we initiate programs that strongly support their new life, and these recovered addicts succeed in their future. Prevention can be in the form of better anti-drug education programs, but also investing in programs that prevent the spread of HIV/Hep C, as it is on the rise. Syringe Exchange Programs can help with this. Treatment comes in many different forms, as addictions are not all the same. When we understand what the addictions are, we understand what kind of treatment is needed. When one is treated, we can then evaluate what the best options are for their new life and future. This area will be a big focus if I am elected.
- Travel Reports: I believe Council Members should be required to give reports on their travels. Where did I go? Why did I go? What did I learn? How will this benefit the tribe? I believe it is important for tribal members to be informed, and that Council Members are not just traveling for the sake of traveling. Bring back home some results to report.
- Community Quarterly Forums: Couple things I want to establish as your Council Member, is building trust, and keeping you informed. As your Council Member, I will host Quarterly Forums throughout the year. Every 3-months I will host a community wide event (food provided), and this event will give the community and tribal members the chance to collaborate with me in person. Be updated on what is going on in the tribe/community, and address issues. Letters will be sent out via mail as well, and will help to keep those can’t make it to the event, updated.
- Cherokee High School Alumni: Class of 2007
- Southwestern Community College Alumni: Class of 2010
- Western Carolina University Alumni: Class of 2014 (BS degree in Sociology, Minor in Cherokee Studies)
- Right Path Culture Adult Leadership Program Alumni: Class of 2012
- UNC Chapel Hill Native American Leadership Institute Alumni: Class of 2014
- WCU Coulter Regional Leadership Program Alumni: Class of 2016
- Business Owner: Jeremy Wilson Photography
Jeremy Wilson – Wolftown Tribal Council Candidate
“A New Generation of Fresh Leadership”