Halito Brothers & Sisters,

There is no doubt that the fight for transparency and free elections is gaining ground and that, in part, is due to Chief Batton. I want to give credit where credit is due. The recent inclusion of short bio’s of the candidates and the incumbents into the Biskinik is a historical event as is the committee on election reform. The option to have candidate information sent to registered voters is also of historical significance. There’s your credit.

Now, let’s look at how far we have to go. The CNO has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a beautiful state of the art website. Why aren’t there candidate/incumbent interviews on it? I am an absentee voter and I would like to get a feel for the candidates running for office that’s hard to do in a short bio. Where were the questions? There are so many how could anyone just simply leave them out? The first one would be, “why do you want to run for a Chahta council seat”? I think that’s a pretty simple question that our tribal newspaper failed to even ask. The crusaders for opposition to the status quo, The Choctaw National party, were the ones to video candidate forums. It’s amazing what can happen when Chahta voters can’t get the information needed from your own tribe. I applaud the efforts of the fledging opposition party.

I also applaud the new candidates running for council seats and am especially happy to see Ohoyo Chahta running for Chief and District 11 Council. I am, however very disappointed that Perry Thompson (District 8), Thomas Williston (District 1), Kenneth Bryant (District 3) and Ron Perry (District 5) have gone unopposed. Tell me Okla Chahta what message does this send to have these candidates unopposed since they are the very men who have continuously slapped down releasing the voters registration list? It’s obvious to me we need to remove the residency requirements for candidates from the Choctaw Constitution.

I am saddened to see huge amounts of money being spent on this campaign by the Chief and incumbent council and no one wants to answer where the campaign monies are coming from (when you vote that should be a major major deciding factor for the Chief’s Office). Even as I write this I think about the man who is to serve 15 years in prison for monies that went through several hands not just his. He shouldn’t be sitting in federal prison alone.

Not to mention using residency requirements to disallow other candidates to run for office especially when it wasn’t an issue when Tony Messenger lived in Durant but had a home in Broken Bow. Now, I like Tony Messenger I believe his heart is in the right place but if you are going to have rules then those rules need to apply to everyone or no one.

Lastly, the election board should be independent of the chief and council offices – period. To have them appointed by our leadership is another shallow attempt at the appearance of propriety and truth. Any board that is appointed by the Chief answers to the Chief, it just makes sense.

Chi Pisa La Chike and don’t forget VOTE VOTE VOTE!

S. Crowder (Choctaw Wright)

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