Sarah Oberly resigns as Election Board Supervisor

Lisa Otipoby, a tribal judge and municipal judge from Ponca City, has replaced Sarah Oberly as Osage Nation Election Board Supervisor.

“My election experience is through the courts,” Otipoby said during the meeting Wednesday evening at the election board office in downtown Pawhuska. “I’ve seen how elections can be mishandled and can cost tribes a lot of money, and I’ve also seen how elections can be run smoothly and save tribes a lot of money.”

Oberly was not present at the meeting Wednesday but the board voted to accept her resignation and reinstate her as a board member. Whether or not she’ll resume her post as board chairwoman the board has not yet decided, said Walter Hopper Jr., the current election board chairman.

“[Oberly] was just taking that position [election supervisor] as a temporary position until we found someone more qualified,” Hopper said at the meeting.

Oberly had no comment for this article.

Otipoby, a Comanche tribal member, is a tribal judge for Anadarko area tribes, the Kickapoo Tribe and is the tribal prosecutor for the Tonkawa Tribe. She is also a Municipal judge for the communities of Shidler, Kaw City and Fairfax.

Election Board Communications Policy

Otipoby presented a policy for when the election board communicates or receives communication from the Nation’s Executive Branch, as well as potential and declared candidates, at the meeting. The policy states that it was also drafted to complement the Executive Branch Protocol and Procedures for Working with and Communicating to the Osage Nation Congress. Commonly known as the “gag order,” the Executive Branch policy restricts Osage Nation employees from communicating with Congress. The Executive Branch protocol was revised and approved March 26, 2009.

The election board approved its new communications policy Wednesday and Hopper said that the policy will now have to be approved by the Osage Nation Congress.

“I think there was some things in the [Osage Nation] Constitution and the [Osage Nation Election Law] that weren’t really that clear, and we’re just making sure we communicate with everyone in the proper way and the proper form,” Hopper said in a phone interview today.

The policy states that when the Executive Branch communicates with the board, all communications are to be directed to the chairman of the board. The chairman then disseminates the information to the appropriate person. All communications, back and forth, are to be recorded and kept by the election board for a period of seven years.

For communications with potential or declared candidates, the candidates must direct all written communications to the chairman of the election board. Election board staff is responsible for documenting the contact information of all potential and declared candidates and the manner of their visits. When appropriate, communications may be recorded by audio or video means.

The policy also states that there is no expectation of privacy within the communications of the election board, its staff or contractors and any declared or potential candidates. Anything discussed privately will be in Executive Session of a board meeting, such as personnel matters or matters concerning election board attorneys or legal matters.

Election Board meets again Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m.

The board will be considering an 8-page policy on campaign finance tracking drafted by Otipoby and they will also be making the decision on which election company is to run the Nation’s June election.

For more information call the Election Board Office at (918) 287-5286 or visit their Web site at

To view the Election Board’s proposed Communications Policy page 1 click here: Election Board proposed Communications Policy page 1 To view the Election Board’s proposed Communications Policy page 2 click here: Election Board proposed Communications Policy page 2 To view Lisa Otipoby’s resume page 1 click here: Lisa Otipoby resume page 1 To view Lisa Otipoby’s resume page 2 click here: Lisa Otipoby resume page 2