Community , Government , Candidates

Election Board member recuses self from 2018 election duties

One alternate member of the Osage Nation Election Board will serve official duties for the 2018 general election after a sitting board member recused herself following a family’s member’s candidate filing in the ON Congressional race.

Board member Belle Wilson submitted a letter of recusal to her fellow colleagues after her niece, Congresswoman Alice Goodfox, filed for candidacy seeking a third term in the June 4 election. The board unanimously voted to accept Wilson’s letter on Feb. 8 and now alternate board member Anita Fields will serve on the three-member board in Wilson’s place.

Board Chairwoman Shannon Lockett said Fields will serve as a regular voting board member through the remainder of the election season. Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre said she alerted second alternate board member Gary Weyl of the election developments and he also attended the Feb. 8 board meeting while Fields attended via telephone and other sitting board member Terry Hazen was present.

The Congressional candidate filing period runs through March 12, meaning if another candidate files, which would require another board member to recuse herself to avoid a conflict of interest, then Weyl would also step in to serve official board duties.

According to the Osage election code, a board member shall recuse him/ herself from board service for that election and an alternate board member shall serve according to provisions of the election code in the event a candidate files who: is an immediate family member of a board member; lives with a board member; or is a partner in a business concern with a board member.

The law also states “‘immediate family’ means spouse, son, daughter, mother, father, sister or brother, grandparent or grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew or member of the same household and includes those of the foregoing who are formally adopted by court order.”

Wilson was appointed and confirmed to the Election Board in the fall of 2014 after Goodfox won a second Congressional term in that year’s election. Weyl, a long-time Osage County resident, was first appointed and confirmed for an alternate board position in spring 2015.

Weyl was an election official who assisted in the Nation’s 2006 election when the reformed government launched, and he also assisted in the 2014 Osage Minerals Council election.

The Election Board will consider other 2018 election-related business including: review/ approval of candidate campaign reports; considering fines/ penalties if any candidates do not submit those campaign reports by stated deadlines; considering fines/ penalties if any candidates do not follow other mandates in the election law or rules/ regulations; and board members will be present for assisting in election day duties including ballot counting and making decisions for any unexpected developments. The 2018 election business will also include taking action (if necessary) for recounting ballots and certifying the election results.

The Election Board will hold its next regular meeting on March 13 at 1 p.m. in the Election Office in Pawhuska.