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New leadership needed

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To The Editor:

The purpose of competing in a tribal election is to win public office and to gain power and influence over tribal policy and tribal resources. Tribal elections are the result of a complex process that requires the participation of a variety of actors, each with different roles and agendas. Our elections always result in winners and losers. Everyone wants to be the winner; few want to lose.

Election corruption is political corruption – for example, manipulating the election process to ensure that the election of a particular individual or team occurs. This form of corruption occurred in our own tribal election held on June 1, 2013. A community member felt disenfranchised and marginalized with the antics that surrounded the election and felt an appeal was necessary.

As a result, the SRMT Election Board examined affidavits and physical evidence and determined that the team of Randy Hart and Shelley Jacobs violated the Election and Referendum Ordinance – a recorded decision of the Tribal Council that Chief Hart supported and approved on April 2, 2013.

It is very easy to refer to the Hart/Jacobs violations of the Election Ordinance as a hijacking of our Tribal election and could be described as a continued and shameless effort by troubled politicians to fix elections in their favor or even a blatant disregard for Tribal law – a law approved by Chief Hart, himself. “If you can’t win, cheat” could and should be the motto of the Hart/Jacobs team.

Election corruption is political poison. It strikes at the heart of our Tribal Council. Each Chief, Sub-Chief, and tribal member should aim to preserve the integrity of a cast vote. To do anything less separates present and future generations.

Every time that a fraudulent vote is cast in our Tribal elections, it effectively cancels out a vote of a tribal community member’s legitimate vote. In the June election, we did not have a team of incumbents stand up for election integrity and honesty; however, as demonstrated by the decision of the SRMT Election Board we had a team of incumbents do just the opposite.

The only comfort I take from these underhanded shenanigans is that they are a reflection of desperation to succeed within a pool of stand-out candidates and also a tribal community that is struggling to stay competitive in a dynamic environment.

In this weekend’s special election, I hope that there will emerge a new kind of leadership that is more rational, more inclusive, more cooperating, and more democratic – a kind of leadership that does not use scare antics or threatening pressure.

Unfortunately, I lost all faith in the integrity of our Tribe’s most recent election outcome. I hope that the results of this weekend’s election will change that perception.

We certainly do not need a Council comprised of elected officials that thinks of cheating the tribal community and undermining our own political system are allowable actions. We need elected officials ready to act honestly, with integrity, and to behave ethically.

Please vote on July 13, 2013.

Christian M. Jock

Washington, DC

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