In seeking reelection for a second Osage Nation Congress term, Paula Stabler said her work experience in various fields prepared her for the job and she is ready to continue the legislative duties.
Stabler addressed friends, family and fellow Osages during an April 9 lunch she hosted in Wakon Iron Community Center. Stabler, who lives in the Pawhuska Village, also served on the five-person Village Committee in two stints before running for Congressional office and winning the 2018 election.
Through the years, Stabler worked in manufacturing, sales, as well as 13 years in healthcare and she said those times prepared her “for the work that was coming ahead.” Stabler served as manager for the Wahzhazhe Health Center and was the communications officer for former Principal Chief Jim Gray.
“It’s been a long haul because, when you go into this type of government work, you’re an individual but you’re part of a body and that’s some tough work because it’s you and what your thoughts and feelings are and you’ve also got to work with 11 others and to make that work happen,” she said.
Important lessons Stabler said she learned through her first four years include “first of all, you have to find a solution, you have to admit there’s a problem and you have to find a solution. It all seemed real simple (at first), but then there are 12 of us to be able to (reach) that solution.”
One example Stabler gave of Congress handling a difficult situation while serving was hearing about the Osage LLC losses of up to $22 million under prior management and board members. Over time, the LLC was restructured and management and board members changed, as well as financial reporting, she said, adding the LLC is making money, fulfilling contracts, but not making a profit yet. “I think the first thing we did that got us through it is we admitted we had a problem and we had to solve it,” Stabler said.
Stabler also addressed the Wahzhazhe Health Center, which has experienced issues with employee turnover, staff and patient complaints and leadership turnover that were Congressional committee topics earlier this year. “I’m sorry to those who have been hurt by the clinic services right now, I feel for you and just know that things will get better,” she said, adding the clinic is “exercising our sovereignty” under the IHS compact.
She addressed issues with the Nation’s Treasury, which has been without a Treasurer since Jim Littleton resigned in spring 2021. With Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear appointing Controller Tyler McIntosh as acting treasurer, Stabler said late financial reports have been coming in and she remains “optimistic … This is our Nation, we’re growing fast.”
For current sponsored legislation, Stabler said she sponsored bill ONCA 21-31 to establish a new health care system for the Wahzhazhe Health Center and health-related entities. Congress passed the bill during the 2022 Hun-Kah Session on April 20.
Stabler said she sponsored the bill to restructure, noting healthcare operations, especially accounting, are different from government operations and should have a separate structure. She said the new structure is a start, and the clinic will have its own accounting, human resources and the system will remain under the Executive Branch.
If elected, Stabler said she wants to continue working on initiatives to offer more services, including assisted living care for elders. In closing, Stabler said “I’m glad to visit with you, I like to visit with you … I’m asking you for your support (and) call me.”