Heisler to face Fox in White Earth election June 13; Auginaush is re-elected; Wadena faces Tibbetts
White Earth Secretary-Treasurer Franklin "Bud" Heisler won nearly 43 percent of the primary vote Tuesday to earn a spot on the June 13 general election ballot.
The second-highest vote-getter was Kenneth R. Fox Jr., with 12.5 percent of the vote, or 235 votes to 803 votes for Heisler.
Coming in a close third was Robert Durant with 11.5 percent, or 216 votes. Fourth was Lucille "Teedo" Sullivan Silk with 10.2 percent, or 191 votes.
Former tribal chairman John B. Buckanaga was fifth with 9.6 percent, or 180 votes.
The five other candidates had vote percentages in the single digits, with the largest being 6.4 percent, or 120 votes, for Darrell "Boone" Wadena.
Elmer "Gene" Tibbetts received 48 votes, Geraldine "Fuzzy" Bellanger 32 votes, Lori "Queenie" Gellings 26 votes, and Teresa A. "Terri" Thompson 20 votes.
The top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election, unless a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote.
That happened for the first time in White Earth Tuesday, as District 1 Committeewoman Irene "Rene" Auginaush received 50.2 percent, or 231 votes, to win re-election.
The results are unofficial until certified by the tribal election board.
The second and third place winners in District 1 -- Don Herchell Goodwin with 16.3 percent (75 votes) and Steven "Punky" Clark with 13.9 percent (64 votes) -- may request a recount because of the closeness of Auginaush's re-election to a four-year term.
The other candidates in District 1 received the following votes: Mary Jane Beaulieu, 30 votes (6.5 percent); Henry G. Fox, 22 votes (4.7 percent); Alfred E. Fox, 21 votes (4.5 percent); and Nathan LaFriniere, 17 votes (3.7 percent).
The third Tribal Council race is in District 2, where incumbent Committeeman Anthony "Tony" Wadena received nearly 30 percent of the vote.
Terrance "Terry" Tibbetts earned a spot on the general election ballot by coming in second with 25.4 percent of the vote, or 178 votes to 209 votes for Wadena.
Terrance "Amik" Burnette came in third with 16.4 percent, or 115 votes.
Here's how the other candidates fared in District 2: "Del" Bellanger came in fourth, with 71 votes, or 10.2 percent; Larry Olson received 47 votes, or 6.7 percent; Robert "Hud" Webster received 32 votes (4.6 percent); Joe Bush, Jr., received 32 votes (4.6 percent); DelAllen; Terry Roy, 10 votes (1.4 percent); and Monte Maibori, 5 votes (.7 percent).
After the votes were counted Tuesday at the Golden Eagle Bingo Hall in Mahnomen, Heisler thanked his supporters.
"Thank you very much to the people that are supporting me," he said in an interview. "I'll be around some more (campaigning) until the general election, asking for their support."
"I think people are happy with the council in general," he added. "A lot of good things are happening -- the casino is on the way into trust status, hopefully we got the timber settlement settled. It will take a while, but we've got the secretary of the interior on our side."
Convenience stores are up and running in the villages of White Earth and Pine Point, and a new community center will open in White Earth Village in June, he said.
"I have to give credit to our department managers -- we give them a budget, and they stay within it."
Auginaush, who has been on the council for nearly 10 years, also thanked her supporters, and said it was especially meaningful for her because both a son and her mother died within a two-month period in 2003.
"It hit me hard," and it has taken a while to bounce back, she said.
"I'm really humbled. I didn't know I would have that much support."
Auginaush tries to take good care of her constituents, and has been active in lobbying Congress over national Indian issues such as gaming and land, on behalf of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, she said.
(Hurricane) Katrina and the war have hit us hard, because funding has been cut," she said. "We've had to educate a lot of state legislators that not all Indian tribes are rich. We brought them to the reservation to see. I wish we could bring some national legislators here, because in Washington they have that same mentality."
Auginaush uses stories from her own life when talking to elected officials.
"It helps get my point across, because I lived that life -- I was on welfare, I've been a single mother. I started (in tribal government) driving a Head Start bus at minimum wage."
She lives in Rice Lake, south of Bagley, which is the largest community in her district in the northern part of the reservation.
Rice Lake has a new community center, water tower and water treatment system, and now Auginaush hopes see a community center/coin laundry built there, as well.
She'd like to see a business move into the old community center to bring jobs to the area, and she'd like to see a tribal treatment center and holding center built on the reservation. It would be a place to treat and hold both adults and juvenile offenders, who often slip through the cracks now, she said.
"We have so many people incarcerated or in the court system, most because of alcohol and drugs -- we know best how to help them."
The tribal election board expected to have the results certified by Wednesday afternoon (after press time for this story), according to head election judge Earl Hoagland.
The tribe uses electronic voting machines administered by a New Mexico company, and they have proven very reliable in the past, so Hoagland does not expect the certified results to vary much, if any, from the unofficial results used for this story.
The four-member tribal election board "has a good working relationship with the tribal council," Hoagland said. "They're all there because the people put them there."
Wadena was not interviewed because he was not at the election center Tuesday evening.