Assistant Principal Chief candidates at the Osage News Election Debates conveyed a strong message: Unity.
Despite icy roads and low temperatures, more than 75 people attended the debates at the Hominy Co-op in Hominy, Feb. 1. All five candidates participated: Randolph Crawford, James “Osage” Dailey, Amanda Proctor (who lost her mother to cancer that very morning), recently appointed Assistant Chief Terry Mason Moore and Congressional Speaker Raymond Red Corn.
The debate was moderated by the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa and live-streamed by the Osage Nation Communications Team on the Nation’s website. The video of the event will be archived by Feb. 7.
Each candidate was given two minutes to make opening remarks, given four questions, allowed two minutes to answer and one minute for rebuttal. All candidates drew numbers to determine which order the candidates would answer. The candidates drew their order before every question. Osage tribal members submitted all questions.
Red Corn said if he were elected asst. chief, he would “bridge the gap” between the legislative and executive branches. “When executive and congress respect the rules, things will change,” he said.
Crawford said he was interested in helping the chief as much as possible because whoever is elected chief is going to have a hard job. “The welfare of the people will be the highest law,” he said.
Dailey said he wants to get the Osage reservation back and the Nation needs to start communicating with the tribe’s neighbors on the issue. “That is why I am running, we got to stand as one,” he said.
Moore said she wants to move forward positively, using her experience as an attorney and tribal judge as a basis. “Justice, fairness, compassion … I have great momentum to move forward positively.”
Proctor, who was nearly elected asst. chief in 2010, said she’s an asset because of her work ethic. “I’m a problem solver, a peace maker … I would have worked hard to resolve those disputes.”
The first question drawn by LWV volunteers was: “Will you reinstate job skills testing before employees can be hired by the Osage Nation?” Submitted by Annette Gore from Aurora, Colo.
Moore was the first to answer, explaining that ordinary job skills testing that would normally be performed at businesses didn’t necessarily fit the Osage Nation. She said Nation employees sometimes have to know about tribal history, tribal law and tribal customs.
“I have no problem with that, in order to help employees grow … and bring them up to the skills they need to have.”
Daily said job skills testing was needed from the top down. He said the former administrations have had disasters in terms of hiring qualified individuals for Nation jobs. He said he was displeased with how some of the Nation’s businesses were being run.
“All I can do is spin off of the chief and what he’s going to do.”
Proctor said she has drafted numerous employee handbooks for tribes and knows federal law when doing so. She said skills testing might not be what is needed for the Nation since there are so many various types of jobs from oil gaugers to gaming commissioners.
“I have the expertise to make those determinations and keep the tribe compliant.”
Red Corn said skills’ testing is nothing new with the Osage Congress staff. They have had good luck with the testing and he was a big believer in standardized testing. He said employee orientation is the place to teach employees about tribal history and customs.
“Having a very strong Human Resources Department is key.”
Rebuttals came from the candidates.
Crawford: “Job skills’ testing is necessary for people being hired … to help them out for the future.”
Moore: “I believe in community, if we’re able to provide the training, we should provide it.”
Dailey: “We need some training on how to get to work on time.”
Proctor: “I believe job skills testing could be a barrier for our employees … I just want to help the tribe grow and help our people.”
Red Corn: “When you empower employees there’s more to job skills testing.”
“Do you believe that there are sufficient processes for engaging the Osage electorate in public debate and decision-making and if not, what do you think should be done to increase Osage public participation in political decision-making?” Submitted by Elizabeth Homer, Alexandria, Va.
Dailey said he did not feel there was a proper form of government forum for Osages to get together and discuss issues. He recommended there be a general council, made up of people to bring the business of the Nation before the tribal members.
“Which should be the supreme governing body of the Osage tribe (a general council).”
Proctor said she believed the Osage Constitution had flaws, and in some cases, fatal flaws. One of those flaws was the high vote count for a citizen referendum recall petition for any real change to occur. A difference between 300 and 5,000 was huge in terms of Osage voters.
“We know that many of our enrolled members do not vote, it’s a sad fact … we do not have sufficient processes in place.”
Red Corn sponsored legislation that lowered the number for a citizen referendum recall petition but it was defeated. He cited Facebook comments as a sign many Osage voters are unaware of basic information, such as Nation’s services and locations.
In terms of reaching out he said, “Why don’t we just ask you what you need.”
Crawford said many people simply feel disconnected. He said out of the 2012 election, roughly 20 percent of registered Osage voters came out to vote. He said he would work on increasing website traffic, more mail outs, produce a catalog directory.
“An uninspired electorate becomes an uninformed electorate, then it becomes a smaller and smaller electorate.”
Moore said she didn’t feel there was enough services and outreach. She said in Fairfax, where she resides, there is barely Internet connection and how are tribal members to stay connected if they can’t utilize these basic services. She said she intends to improve communication.
“I know there are a lot of CDIB carriers that don’t have much participation or know what’s available or can take advantage of.”
Dailey: “We need to amend the Constitution to give you a voice, that is the only way.”
Proctor: “I think we need to go back and explore alternatives and our traditional ways.”
Red Corn: “I think a direct answer on social media; using something in the Constitution to refer bills.”
Crawford: “I believe we need to move forward with the referendum petition, to give people power to tell the chief and asst. chief what they need.”
Moore: “Referendum is only good for those that vote. I want to get out in the community.”
“What is your experience in government and representing the interests of the public?” Candy Thomas, Pawhuska.
Proctor cited her Harvard education and legal experience in representation for tribes as general counsel and tribal housing authorities for 15 years. She said as an attorney she has helped steer tribes back into compliance when they aren’t in compliance with federal regulations.
“An attorney for a tribe has a lot of influence, don’t ever let anyone tell you they don’t … I’ve been at the table when my opinion was the one the tribe chose to go with.”
Dailey said he started out in the military and has worked in government jobs all his life. He’s been elected to serve in tribal government as well. He said it was he and others who got the Delaware their federal recognition.
“I’ve been in the government all my life, except for 17 years in tribal, two years was running the Delaware Tribe.”
Moore has had a 30-year career serving tribes and her community in various capacities. Such as tax attorney, general counsel, tribal judge, school board member, sat on many boards for tribal schools, colleges, so many she had “lost track.”
“I can work with any of these chief candidates, I think we can make a good team.”
Crawford has worked in various capacities for social service programs for the Osage and other tribes and state. He has done Indian Child Welfare investigations, made assessments; he’s been the director of social services programs. He’s been in high-pressure situations and cares about the Osage people.
He said he’s been before judges and testified for children’s well being.
Red Corn said his eight years of experience in the Osage Nation Congress make him the best candidate. Two years was spent managing the congressional staff and two years was spent as congressional speaker. He said he stands for fairness and was the author of legislation to amend the ethics code.
“The events of the last six months were in the public interest … I know how to start building trust between the congress and executive branch.”
Proctor: “They’ve been in office a long time, elected, appointed, and things have not always gone well.”
Dailey: “I’m not a lawyer, and thank God for that, but I have been in tribal government.”
Moore: “I’ve done a lot of work for many and have always tried to be fair.”
Red Corn: “I’m going to be the nuts and bolts guy, the worker bee. I’ll get things done.”
Crawford passed on the rebuttal.
“Do you have a vision of what our tribe might become, of what we might BE?” Addison Jump, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Red Corn said thoughtful management, ethical behavior, technology; all of these things will become the Nation, thanks to the Osage Constitution. He said his vision for the tribe was to make Osages proud of their own tribe. He said it will take at least six months to a year after he is elected to see positive change.
“I’m tired of hearing Osages say, ‘it’s never going to change up on that hill.’ I don’t believe that … I think we may finally be seeing the promise this little green book promised to our Osage Nation.”
Crawford said he saw the Nation becoming self-sufficient. He said the Nation needs to expand education to not only scholarship assistance, but also job training, learning a trade or skill, something useful for Osages to start diversifying their business interests and jobs.
“We need our people to be able to help. Where are our plumbers, electricians, architects … we need to expand education, training, we need to make people want to come forward.”
Dailey said he sees the Nation coming together, moving forward in a positive way. He wants to get the respect back for the Nation from its neighbors and the state of Oklahoma. He sees hospitals, research facilities, a per capita payment, and diversification other than casino money.
“We need to come together, to move forward, be a beautiful people.”
Proctor said her vision is simple: she wants the Nation’s revenue to go to the people. She sees housing development, daycares, business diversification, using the Cobell buy-back program to consolidate and buy fractionated land for the tribe to increase its land base.
“We need to buy as much land as we can with the Cobell money and it (buy-back program) will pay for it.”
Moore said she sees Fairfax and other surrounding towns becoming ghost towns. Windows boarded up, businesses leaving, no jobs for the community. She said Fairfax has 72 houses in disrepair and she knows the neighboring communities face the same dilemmas.
She said many Osages receive their education and “we don’t have jobs to come back to.”
Red Corn: “All of these visions have to be funded by the congress and then be implemented by executive … the asst. chief is the natural bridge between the congress and executive.”
Dailey: “The biggest concern for us is to get our reservation restored.”
Proctor said she is the attorney of record for the Fletcher case, which has been victorious twice in the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, with no backing from the Osage Nation.
Moore: “I’m encouraged by the way we’ve been working together, just in the past two weeks.”
Each candidate was given two minutes for his or her closing remarks.
Red Corn said it’s very different talking about the goals you envision for the Nation versus being the “boots on the ground.” He said during his eight years in the first, second and third congress, his attendance rates were 99.35 percent, 100 percent and 100 percent.
“I will have the same dedication in the office of the assistant principal chief.”
Crawford said he wants to pick up the pieces and get back to work. He said he doesn’t want the asst. chief office so he can see his picture in the paper or be quoted. He said he would provide assistance to the chief and help the Osage people.
“Even if you don’t vote for me it is your vote, your choice, your chance, it is your government.”
Dailey said he would restore communication, work hard and work toward restoring the reservation.
“We need leaders who won’t sit on the hill and twiddle their thumbs and say, ‘what are we going to do now?’”
Moore said she has learned a lot from the other candidates and she’s very inspired for what she needs to do for the Nation. She said she works all the time, on evening and weekends. She said she encourages whoever is elected chief to delegate work to her and she will get it done.
“I’m a positive thinker … when people are happy you get unity, production.”
Proctor told a story about when representing a client, she advised against a hasty decision and presented an alternative that got her clients a lucrative land deal. She said she would bring cost effective strategies for the Nation, a hard work ethic, be a peacemaker and remain positive.
To view the video of the debate visit the Osage Nation’s website at www.osagetribe.co.