The Osage News has finalized the rules for its inaugural candidate debates May 8 and 9.

The debates, which will split 18 congressional candidates into three groups of six by alphabetical order of their last name, will be held at the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and will be broadcast live on the Nation’s Web site at The first day of the debate, May 8, will feature the five chief candidates, the six candidates running for assistant chief and six congressional candidates. The second day, May 9, will feature two groups of congressional candidates.

The rules

Each group of candidates will be asked a total of three questions. Each candidate will draw a number to determine in which order they are to answer. The candidates will draw numbers before each question to ensure that each candidate has a chance to answer first or answer last. Candidates will have three minutes to answer a question and one minute for rebuttal.

A representative from the League of Women Voters of Tulsa will time the candidates’ responses, give a 30 second warning and announce when their time has expired. The Osage News will publish a program for each day of the debate, outlining the rules for the debate and also publishing the questions that are to be asked for each group. Each group to debate will have the questions for the same amount of time and the audience will be able to follow the debate.

Questions will not be allowed from the audience, applause or any type of demonstration will not be allowed while the candidates are debating. The Osage Nation Police Department will be on hand. No visual aids, such as power points, may be used by a candidate. The Osage News is non-partisan and does not support or oppose individual candidates, all political advertising (including brochures, bumper stickers, signs, buttons) is prohibited at the debate.

The questions

A question committee will be formed and be comprised of seven people. The three staff members of the Osage News and four members of the public. Each member of the question committee will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. The questions will be formed from the following topics: Economy, health, education, social services, gaming, legal, energy, preservation, culture and natural resources.

The moderator for the debate, Bryan Pollard, editor of the award-winning Cherokee Phoenix, the tribal newspaper of the Cherokee Nation, will be in charge of asking the questions and moving the debate along. He will also enforce the ground rules of the debate and ensure that each candidate has an equal chance to answer the question.

Emcee for the event will be Susan Shannon, host of KGOU-KROU’s award-winning Indian Times. The Osage Million Dollar Elm will be catering both days of the event. For more information about the Osage News Debates May 8 and 9, contact Chalene Toehay at (918) 287-5668 or e-mail her at