Red Lake Nation hosts candidate fair

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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

reservation.

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

to elders.

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

participants.

"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

students.

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,

District 2A

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

aquatic species.

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

notion.

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

jail.

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

leadership.

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

Auditor/Treasurer

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

together.

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)