|Written by Michael Meuers, Red Lake News,
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The Red Lake Political Education
Committee, a tribal non-profit and non-partisan organization, hosted
a Candidate Fair & Breakfast on Oct. 22 at the Red Lake Seven
Clans Casino and Event Center.
All candidates for local and statewide
office (Senate District 2 and Beltrami County) who would represent
the Red Lake Indian Reservation were invited to the event in addition
as well as candidates for Red Lake School Board. The office seekers
fielded questions from a crowd of about 100 people.
Taking a position in front of the Red
Lake PEC banner, PEC co-chairs Michelle Paquin and Tim Sumner
welcomed the attendees. They then introduced the group of Red Lake
Canvassers who are working on Get-Out-The-Vote efforts for PEC on the
The canvassers present included, Larry
Sigana, Paula Iceman, Jerricho Redeagle, Francine Kingbird, Doreen
Wells, Marlys Smith, Christy Sumner and Carlene Sigana and were
offering rides to the polls to any and all at the casino complex.
PEC co-chair Tim Sumner, also a
Beltrami County Commissioner, said he was pleased that the event was
well attended and said, "the new absentee polls in Red Lake are
a great example of collaboration between the county and tribe."
Paquin, noting that Red Lake PEC is
making an extra effort to engage the youth of the nation in the
importance of voting, introduced the Red Lake Youth Council, which
assisted with the day's events as time-keepers and serving breakfast
In keeping with PEC's youth movement,
20 year-old Alyss Seki acted as emcee. She introduced several of the
other PEC members, including Secretary Cheri Goodwin and Treasurer
Mary Ringhand. Seki thanked sponsors for the event, the Red Lake
Tribal Council, Four Winds and individual donors Lorraine Cecil,
State Representative Roger Erickson and Sue Engel, First National
Bank of Bemidji spokesperson.
Seki then introduced her grandfather
Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., who introduced himself in
Ojibwemowin. He welcomed the crowd and thanked all the candidates and
"I'm very glad to see the Red
Lake Youth Council here, it is very important that youth participate
in the process. I'm very supportive of get out the vote efforts and
want to remind the candidates present that the Red Lake Band has over
2,900 registered voters," Seki said.
Candidates for Red Lake School Board
Alyss Seki then
introduced candidates for the Red Lake School Board. Four of the six
candidates participated, incumbents Roy Nelson and Chris Jourdain,
who was appointed to fill out the term of Arnold Pemberton, Kathryn
"Jody" Beaulieu and Tina Stately. Thomas Barrett and Barb
Thomas were not present.
The candidates all had two minutes to
introduce themselves and stood for questions from the audience.
The school board candidates answered
questions about language, culture, immersion schools, parental roles,
the new superintendent and administration and expressed that teachers
need to be more involved in the reservation community.
All candidates agreed that the
preservation of Ojibwemowin in Red Lake schools is a top priority.
This issue was a topic of much discussion with several questions from
the audience addressing the issue. They also agreed that
student-teacher communication is key in the students' development.
In opening statements, Nelson, after
telling a story of his ever-present "Ponemah" baseball cap,
said he supports stronger academics for all students. He said he has
been pushing language immersion for years. Stately said she supports
teacher observation, curriculum selection and parental involvement.
She said that even though the school is responding, that it isn't
enough, and supports preserving the language and culture.
Beaulieu, a former substitute teacher
and former school board member said she's very supportive of
Ojibwemowin revitalization efforts in the schools. She noted that
through the language comes a value the district wants to teach
Jourdain said he provides a
perspective as both a school board member and as a teacher. He also
blamed Washington for "playing politics" while cutting
millions of dollars from the school's budget.
Candidates for State Representative,
State Representative Roger Erickson
(DFL-Baudette) and Republican challenger David Hancock answered
questions from the crowd. Both said that they have sought to create
stronger relationships between the state and the Red Lake Band.
Queries from the audience included the
candidates' views on the wolf hunt, the proposed pipeline, charter
schools, domestic assault program funding, voter ID and invasive
Erickson said that the state has
provided $10 million to battle invasive species. Hancock said he
would support a voter ID bill while Erickson emphatically opposed the
Candidates for Beltrami County Attorney
Perhaps the most contentious of the
candidate debates was the contest for Beltrami County Attorney, as
the current County Attorney Tim Faver, who has held the position for
25 years, is not seeking reelection. The candidates to replace him
are newcomer Assistant County Attorney Annie Claesson-Huseby and
David Hanson, who previously ran for judge.
Both candidates fielded question on
domestic violence, the Indian Child Welfare Act and the high
percentage of incarcerated American Indians in the Beltrami County
Claesson-Huseby said she would work
together with counterparts at Red Lake to look at the fairness of the
courts, to explore why that is happening and work on the root
problem. Hanson said that Beltrami County has the highest crime rate
in the state and that the County Attorney's office needs new
In regard to domestic assault,
Claesson-Huseby said that no-contact orders are important and can
save lives and that violating them is an additional crime. Hanson
said the orders are important but can on occasion be overused. Hanson
would look at the necessity on a case-by-case basis, rather than
using it as a blanket policy.
Claesson-Huseby countered that Hanson
was endorsed for judge by the GOP, to which Hanson responded that it
was only one endorsement he sought to gain name recognition in a
field of 24 candidates.
Beltrami County Sheriff and County
Although both Sheriff Phil Hodapp and
County Auditor/Treasurer Jodee Treat are running unopposed, both
attended the Candidate Fair out of respect for the Red Lake
community. Both visited with the crowd and were invited to speak
briefly by Red Lake PEC.
Hodapp said that the Beltrami County
Sheriffs continues to improve their relationship with Red Lake Public
Safety. He noted that the patrol officers for both bodies support one
another. He suggested that the best way to address the "jail
issue" is to continue to foster good relationships and working
Treat is responsible and supportive of
the county's role in implementing the satellite-voting site at Red
Lake. She has spent a day helping to train Red Lake election judges.
Treat congratulated Red Lake PEC on
its Get Out the Vote Campaign, and then concluded by saying "the
four precinct communities of Red Lake, Redby, Ponemah and Little Rock
consistently have the highest voter turn-out in Beltrami County."
PHOTO: Alyss Seki (left)
moderates questions and responses by school board candidates Roy
Nelson, Tina Stately, Kathryn "Jody" Beaulieu and Chris
Jourdain. (Photo by Michael Meuers)