By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
In September, the entire legislative branch of our Tribe is up for election. There are four candidates in each of the six communities to consider. Each brings a level of education, experience, and personal conviction to the table. Do you know what they are about? Have you looked beyond the smile and the promise, which is obligatory for a politician?
We have endured a historic upheaval in our government in the past year. Decisions that affect the future of the Tribe should not be taken lightly. The power of your vote should not be taken lightly.
Your vote determines the course of tribal commerce, health care, law enforcement and every other service that is governed by your elected officials. You shouldn’t hand the reins of power over to someone because they are a “good ole boy or girl” or “they are my kin” or “they bought me a tank of gas”. If you do, you are cheating yourself and your community out of the kind of leadership that we all need. You shouldn’t hand over control of a half-billion-dollar municipality for the price of a bag of groceries or an electric bill.
It takes education and experience to navigate the complex workings of government and business. Serious threats are facing our Tribe. Drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions. Our jail is loaded with repeat offenders who are in and out like they are staying at a hotel. We have unmet health care needs, unmet needs to diversify revenue streams, and the wolves are at the door, ready to pounce on our only proven economic engine. Important decisions need to be made concerning our traditions and culture. Our set of laws are outdated and in need of overhaul or replacement.
The Tribal Council and Executive Office will determine the future of our Tribe. Those who served have wrestled with the many issues that face our Tribe and have provided direction that has produced the level of success in economic and tribal services we enjoy today. The candidates for the seats this year all come with a variety of education and experience. Each candidate will offer a unique perspective on where the Tribe goes from here.
The Cherokee One Feather is hosting a series of Tribal Council candidate debates beginning Thursday, July 13 at 5pm. They will be in the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on the Cherokee Central School campus. The first debate will be between the Big Cove community candidates. The second will be with the Birdtown community candidates. Most of the questions will be formatted and the candidates know in advance what they will be asked. Those questions will be broad-based and speak to the Tribe as whole.
If you get there early (Big Cove will start at 5 pm and Birdtown at approximately 7 pm), a box will be set up so that you can write down your own questions for the candidates. The questions will be reviewed for language and ethical considerations, and if deemed appropriate, will be brought to the moderator and shared with the candidates for answers. The candidates, regardless of their township or community, will be elected to represent all tribal members. We hope that you will come out and participate in as many of the debates as possible.
These debates will also be televised and streamed live. You will have every opportunity to see and hear the candidates’ views on issues facing you and how they will handle them. This, along with the very well done Junaluska Leadership Council candidate forums, will give you the information you need to weigh the education, experience and perspective of all candidates and make an informed, wise decision about who should carry on the work of Tribal Council for the next two years.
It matters to me how you choose to vote. Your vote impacts my future and vice versa. Let’s do the right thing for each other. It is what Cherokee people do.