We can continue down this well-trodden path where Tribal government has forgotten it’s specific charge of public service, and always acting in the best interest of the people…where our Tribal members feel disenfranchised and left without a voice…and the lack of growth and progress is now viewed as acceptable. Or…we, as a people, can take the steps necessary to elect those who have embraced the ideals of service, and will work to enhance the lives of all Tribal members, and not just a select few.
I am honored to run for Birdtown Tribal Council…a position my Father, Bill Ledford held for many years with honor and distinction. My campaign slogan…”Service Before Self” is an homage to a core component of my military service. It is also my sworn vow to every member of the EBCI.
A little about me…
-My Father was Bill J. Ledford-former Birdtown Council member/Vice-Chief (parents Riley and Minnie Ledford) my Mother is Mary A. Ross (parents McKinley Ross-former Vice-Chief and Mae Wahnetah)
-Graduated from Cherokee High School-1980/2 college degrees
-Joined the United States Air Force 31MAR86/9th Avionics Maintenance Squadron
Airman of the Year-1989/83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year-1993/Honorably retired after 20+ years of service-01SEP06
-When I returned home, I aggressively sought out and accepted the one job that would allow me to continue to serve the EBCI.
-EBCI Director of Public Safety (Fire, EMS, Dispatch, Domestic Violence, Child Advocacy, Juvenile Services, Emergency Management, NRE) 2007-12.
-Nominated/named/served for 3 years as Vice-Chairman of President Obama’s SLT-PS National Intelligence Sharing Committee.
-Nominated/named/served for 5 years on the DOJ’s Grant Review and Approval Board. Secured numerous grants totaling millions of dollars for the EBCI and Indian Country, as a whole.
Some issues of importance…
EFFECTIVE AND STRONG GOVERNMENT
-Immediately address our governing documents/update the outdated language and vague terminology in our Charter/clearly define the powers and limitations of our governmental branches/implement a strong and effective ethics policy that highlights the penalties for violations of such/create an independent governmental spending oversight committee/work to eliminate nepotism in hiring by allowing HR to do its job.
OPIOIDS AND ILLICIT DRUGS
-Form illicit and prescription drug task force/Law Enforcement must aggressively engage to eliminate the sources/the court system must significantly stiffen the penalties for violations (examine the possibility of a 3 strike rule)/Health and Social Services will work tirelessly to develop and implement those techniques that will increase our chances of effective treatment/Tribal Council will move to create job opportunities for the transition back into individual productivity.
-For years, we have been promised economic diversification. Sadly…this has not happened. We sit and watch as surrounding communities grow. We stand idly by as others make strong economic moves. We must…immediately begin searching for opportunities/acknowledge the need for more Cherokee-centric employment (NOT EVERY CHEROKEE WANTS TO WORK AT THE CASINO!) i.e…agricultural, craft, art, construction/immediately engage with the Secretary of the Interior on “land into trust” issues, clear and specific sovereignty definitions, and tax incentives for those corporations doing business on EBCI land/develop EBCI-owned businesses that are attractive to visitors and beneficial to residents/research opportunities for investment into proven strong growth corporations/start making high quality land purchases to increase the land base of the Qualla Boundary.
-Expand capabilities to match facilities/strongly research the possibility of reducing referrals and hiring quality physicians to provide in-house services/match and exceed the quality of care in the surrounding region, and perhaps draw paying patients to our facilities/research the possibility of a medical campus/develop and support new in-school programs that will encourage our youth to pursue opportunities in health care/streamline the identification and implementation of proven techniques that will support the treatment of opioid/illicit drug abuse.
Granted…we have a lot of work to do, and these are only a few of the problems we have to address. Now, is a trying and uncertain time for our Tribe. We stand divided and we face heavy scrutiny from an unforgiving administration in the White House. It is, however, not too late to recover and grow. WE CAN SUCCEED, and we can move forward from this…but, we have to do it together. In doing so, we will create a stronger Tribe, safeguard our future…and, ultimately…secure our place in history.
Thank you for your time in reading this, and thank you for your support. -Gary