2019 Candidate Statements: Meet your Tribal Council Candidates

This year’s Southern Ute Tribal Council candidates all gathered to introduce themselves and answer questions from the membership on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Sky Ute Casino Event Center.
Tribal Council candidate, John Washington II introduces himself and his platform for running on one of the two tribal council seats during Meet the Candidates Night.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Trennie Collins | SU Drum
Trennie Collins | SU Drum

The 2019 GENERAL ELECTION OF THE SOUTHERN UTE INDIAN TRIBE 

ELECTIONS WILL BE HELD AT 285 LAKIN ST., IGNACIO, CO • 7 AM – 7 PM

2019 Southern Ute Tribal Council Candidate: Marjorie Barry

CANDIDATE: Marjorie Barry

Mike Nuchu,

My name is Marjorie Barry and I am running for a seat on the Southern Ute Tribal Council. My parents were the late William S. Thompson and Grace Rock. My maternal grandparents were Bryan Rock Sr. and Alice Washington.

I attended school in Bayfield and graduated from the local high school in Ignacio. In 2008, after working for over 36 years I returned to college, returning to employment with the tribe in 2012.

I have worked for the clinic, the BIA Branch of Roads and Irrigation department, the Branch of Forestry and directly for the Administrative Officer and Superintendent. My experience with the Tribe includes working for the Tribal Council as Recording Secretary, Administrative Assistant for the Executive Officer and the Gaming Department. I served on the Education Committee and I was also appointed as Tribal Gaming Commissioner. As a Gaming Commissioner we regulated Gaming at the Tribal Casino, approved slot gaming, table games, and presided over Gaming License hearings.

I received my Associates Degree at Pueblo Community College in 2011 and transferred to Fort Lewis. While at Fort Lewis I began an internship for the Culture Department. I was able to work for the Culture Department fulltime, and later was the Acting Culture Director. In 2013 I began working for the Tribal Health Department as the Executive Office Manager, where I am still employed.

I have seen our tribe double in size overnight from 600-tribal members to over 1,200 members. While our tribe slowly increases in size, so has the organization. We now have 1499 tribal members, and we have almost as many employees working for us (Permanent Fund, Growth Fund, and the Casino enterprise). That comes to almost one employee per tribal member. Are we getting the services we should from this huge entity.

As a tribal council candidate, I have been asked if I thought our language was important. My answer is language and tradition are the foundations of our Tribe. Unfortunately, we are losing our language. For every Tribal Elder we lose, we lose another valuable source of history and language. We need to develop programs to prevent us from losing our tribal identity, the very core of what makes our people unique. Language classes could be provided for our people in the schools, provided after work and on weekends. Language applications could be provided to our people for use on computers, tablets and cell phones for easy access. This would allow us to study our language any time, at any location. We need to be proactive and prevent the loss of our language.

Another area that we need to work on is emphasizing the important of the Government’s Trust Responsibility. Each year the O&M fees increase for the Pine River Irrigation System. The fees increase and the services decrease. The Bureau relies on the Tribe and its staff to do the job they are responsible for. We must not let this go on. We cannot continue the status quo. We need to voice our dissatisfaction with the decreasing services the Bureau is providing.

The tribe has a Financial Plan that needs to be updated and revised, and tribal members should be involved in the process. Focus groups comprised of tribal members should be invited to participate in reviewing the Plan. Tribal Members know what our needs are, and recommendations could be made to include those needs in the plan. Tribal members need to be included in the review and updating of the Financial Plan.

The Tribe needs to address the shortfalls in our Tribal Credit Program. This program was established for the Tribal members, and this is not happening. Tribal members are being left out of the Home Ownership program. Tribal members residing off the reservation, and allottees are not allowed to participate in the program. Some Tribal members who have had problems with the law and have paid their debt(s) to society are not allowed to apply for loans from the Credit program. This is not right. All of the membership should be allowed to participate in the Credit loan program. For many years I have brought my concerns up at General Meetings only to be told they can’t do this because of the BIA red tape. I have contacted the BIA and was informed they have not had any communication from the Tribe on the Tribal Credit program.

What our leaders have to do is ACT. Leaders must be ACCOUNTABLE, Leaders must COMMUNICATE with the people, and Leaders must support our TRADITIONAL ways before we lose our tribal identity Tribal Council must ACT to prevent further erosion of our sovereignty. Yes, we elect leaders who make decisions on our behalf, however, leaders still need to COMMUNICATE with the people. Leaders must inform the people about what is going on.

Recently our Detention Center was closed, and there will no longer be a facility for our people. Our people will lose the rights they are entitled to when they are shipped off the reservation for detention services. There must be a facility for our people. Why couldn’t the Detention Center be down-sized, studies conducted, and meetings held with the membership before a decision was made to close it down. Where is the accountability.

We need to ensure services are provided to ALL of our people. We need to STOP denying certain groups the services others receive. We need to improve our education, recreation and language programs and ensure there are resources for these programs.

I would like to thank the Southern Ute People for allowing me the opportunity to take part in our government, to be a representative who works for the tribal membership and talks to the people. I urge you, the tribal membership to come out and vote on November 1, 2019. Thank you.

Marjorie Barry

2019 Southern Ute Tribal Council Candidate: James “Mike” Olguin

CANDIDATE: James “Mike” Olguin

Greetings fellow Tribal Members.

My name is James M. “Mike” Olguin. I am once again humbly asking for your vote of confidence as I’m seeking election to one of the Tribal Council seats.

Over the decades, I have gained knowledge, wisdom and experience, and doing my best in serving the tribe and the membership. I have witnessed and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of our striving successful tribe. Past leadership has brought us to where we are today. We must continue the progress to move us further into the future in an accountable and responsible manner that will benefit us all. I have always believed in being true to my word as the way to lead. We have many different minds ranging in different age groups, but I can assure you we all want the same thing and that’s truthful and open information that is shared, so we can be better informed and knowledgeable in what our tribe is doing.

Council as a collective can accomplish many things. It takes vision driven individuals to see what is affecting our lives and strive to continue to make decisions to better our lives. I envision a Council that is working diligently together, to always work on behalf of the people. Unification within the Council is the key to accomplish more. A Council should be a dedicated group of leaders that work in our best interest using their collective knowledge, wisdom, experience, education and simple understanding of doing what is right. I believe I am that type of person.

We need to develop a vision for future growth that will sustain us to continue to be able to take our own finances further towards our own destiny. There is talk about investments where we need to educate ourselves not only on the financial literacy we already teach, but how to properly invest, for those who want to make their money work for them. We must understand there are risks for any investment you want to make. Entrepreneurship is also being sought by the younger generations, but they will need help in doing so for small business planning, loans and land leases to name a few. Both on and off the reservation.

Our health care system needs constant oversight and direction. We have a system that needs to constantly evolve and I believe we should focus more on healthy foods and plants that we can grow ourselves. This is not a new concept. We take our health for granted, yet we as a tribe, we are capable of doing more to combat illness and disease. We aren’t pushed to think long term about our health and don’t realize the foods we consume could potentially kill us. It’s not just the idea of growing your own but having a local co-op for the ones who don’t wish to grow their own or don’t have the farming skill.

We have so much potential to better ourselves, but don’t be fooled, it will also require some sacrifice. Spending budgets is easily done, but being frugal and mindful of what we spend takes discipline and foresight as to what impacts will be, both positive and negative. This mindset needs to be present in all of us as the benefits we have tomorrow will depend on how we act today.

Our past leaders worked hard delivering us to where we are today. We must ask ourselves, “What is the next step and what will it take to get there?”. We should envision empowerment, not only on the reservation but off the reservation, so we develop a more rounded mindset? Our identity must not be eroded, our sovereignty must be protected, our right to know what our tribe is doing, our expectation that our best interests are at the forefront of all decisions and actions, for the future of our people. Things are constantly changing and we must be ready with strategies and plans to make sure our future, for all of us, is always projecting forward, as Native People, as Visionaries.

James M. “Mike” Olguin

2019 Southern Ute Tribal Council Candidate: Conrad Thompson

CANDIDATE: Conrad Thompson

Hello my name is Conrad Thompson

The reason I’m running for council is difficult to explain in one single statement, but when I look at our community, I do see definitive potential in the tribal membership. I am hoping to be given a chance to witness you all achieve your full potential in whatever endeavors you might seek.

First and foremost I am striving to ensure the tribal membership, as investors, are getting their worth. We have been blessed in the growth of our businesses but we have also been hindered by the cost of living in our area raising because of legalized marijuana. I’m very thankful for the plans that have been set into place to give us what we do have, but any good plan should change drastically because of situations like the cost of living raising to that of five times the national average. We have also been blessed by having been given a chance to witness our businesses flourish but we have not been paying attention to our worth as investors. We are getting less than 5% of what we are worth. That is appalling and should not be allowed to happen. Our leaders need to remember where they got the start up Capital from and to invest in the membership as well.

There is potential for growth in investing in the membership. When you invest in the membership you invest in the community as well. Investing in the membership would give each tribal member the chance to start their own business. Investing in the membership would also give them a chance to invest into their homes, or give them a chance to buy a home. With the amount of resources we do have as tribal members we should each have A1 credit rating as well as the chance to work directly with financial advisors to ensure a solid portfolio as well as a stable future.

To help the younger generation we need to immerse ourselves in their world to truly understand its potential. What I mean is they have been given a chance to grow with technology we have never had, they have resources we never had as well as the ability to have a single idea become a multi million dollar business acquisition. Beats by Dre, honest a website by Jessica alba, 50 Cent vitamin water, Amazon, Google, Apple, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… if our investors had the foresight to see where these fad investments would have led to I don’t see how they wouldn’t have invested into it.

There is also potential growth in the multibillion dollar video gaming industry as well as sites like SoundCloud that launched Post Malone’s music career. Then you look at platforms such as YouTube where each member has their own show just by uploading videos off of their cell phones and other recording devices. There is so much potential to grow and our leaders are not paying attention to that.

There’s also a multibillion dollar industry in the Farm to table market. Right now Europe is making billions by providing greener ideas, one of those ideas is the farm to table market. What is happening is, as a grower you are providing fresh food for the community and your family. Each tribal member has the potential to have a greenhouse in their backyard at little cost.

there is also a multibillion dollar industry in the honey market that does two things first it saves bees, then it provides you with honey that can be sold.

We have been given an opportunity that very few have never seen before, we need to make sure our leaders are taking care of our elders first and foremost then us so that we each have the ability to grow on our own as a tribal community.

These are just a few ideas I have.

Thank you for your time,

Conrad Thompson

2019 Southern Ute Tribal Council Candidate: John Washington II

CANDIDATE: John Washington II

Hello my fellow tribal members this is John J. Washington II, would you please give me a moment of your time.

I am one of your candidates in the November 2019 election asking for your support in selecting me (to serve you) for a seat on the council.

I am willing to ask questions, work with others on tribe’s time and serve the tribal membership on my personal time through volunteering and scheduling time with members. I will say we need to be more constructive as members by gaining knowledge of what encompasses the tribes functions from the past to the present (overviews/ information of policies, taxes, sovereign rights, and the Southern Ute Constitution) that will help educate everyone to partake in the future of our tribe (creating new council members) because we all have one thing in common and that is to see the tribe thrive and continue in existence to support our people.

My employment within the tribe has always been service jobs where I have had personal interaction with tribal members on a daily basis. My latest job was  the elder service driver position for the elder services department.

I will want to hear from YOU what you believe is important because this nation belongs to US and if you feel you have been misrepresented like I have at times – it is OUR obligation to work together to change that outcome.

The growth of our people and preserving our land are vital- we need to make sure that we are just as successful on the reservation as we are off the reservation.

John J. Washington II

 

2019 Southern Ute Tribal Council Candidate: Ramona Eagle

CANDIDATE: Ramona Eagle

Candidate statement not provided.

2019 Southern Ute Tribal Council Candidate: Adam Red

CANDIDATE: Adam Red

Candidate statement not provided.

 

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