Vizenor re-elected in primary; Bevins and Goodman to face off in general election
White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor made history Tuesday evening -- she was re-elected to another four-year term in the primary election, winning 66 percent of the vote in the seven-candidate race.
Former Tribal Council member Tony Wadena of Naytahwaush came in second with 13 percent of the vote.
Because Vizenor won more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary (the first White Earth candidate to do so) she was re-elected Tuesday, and the chairperson's race will not be on the general election ballot June 10.
The race for District 3 committeeman will be on the ballot, however.
On Tuesday, incumbent Kenneth "Gus" Bevins won the primary with 41 percent of the vote. Ralph "Bucky" Goodman came in second in the 12-candidate field with 16 percent of the vote, so Bevins and Goodman will square off June 10 for the third general election in a row.
Vizenor received 1,278 votes to 256 votes for Tony Wadena, her closest competitor. (Tony's father, former longtime tribal chairman Chip Wadena, was not certified to be on the ballot by the council because of his criminal history).
Darrell Boone Wadena took third place with 135 votes, followed by Raymond J. Bellcourt with 128 votes.
Frank Stech Jr. received 72 votes, Patrick W. Scott Sr. received 33 votes and Peter Charette collected 23 votes to round out the primary.
"I believe people are very pleased with the progress during my term," Vizenor said. "People know I work hard - I always work seven days a week."
She thanked her supporters and said her priorities for her next term include finishing a constitutional reform effort, continuing to work on economic development, continuing the tribe's ethanol initiative and a renewed focus on the environment.
Vizenor said she would like to see a concentrated effort to reuse and recycle. "We are the first stewards of the land -- we need to show the way," she said.
She also has a "huge educational initiative" involving all school districts within the White Earth Reservation to improve retention rates and keep native students from dropping out of high school.
And she hopes that U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will hold hearings on health care in the Bemidji region, saying the Indian Health Service is funded at just 37-43 percent of need in the White Earth, Leech Lake and Red Lake area.
In the District 3 race, Bevins received 459 votes to 176 votes for Goodman. Coming in third was Barbara Fabre with 98 votes, followed by Lucille M. Silk with 88 votes.
Marvin Manypenny received 59 votes, Michael Bellanger got 57 votes, Leonard Potter received 44 votes, Timothy St. Clair got 33 votes, Robert F. Howard got 25 votes, Gary Lee Bevins Sr. got 8 votes and Gordon Boswell got 7 votes.
Bevins said he campaigned door-to-door for the primary and will continue to do so for the general election campaign.
He points to a number of improvements in the district, which includes the villages of White Earth and Pine Point, since he defeated Goodman eight years ago.
Some of the projects that either have been completed or will be soon include a new fire hall in White Earth, the water extension project to Ogema from White Earth, Dream Catcher Homes, a new school in Pine Point, the White Earth community center will open this summer, a new Circle of Life School in White earth will be built next year, and a new tribal headquarters building will be done late this year, he said.
The tribe is also looking at acquiring the Archdeacon Gilfillan Center in Bemidji and making it into a facility to help Indian youth who are at-risk of prison.
"We'll be busy for the next few years," Bevins said. "I just want to thank everybody that voted."
The tribal council is expected to certify the election results by noon Wednesday. Head Election Judge Earl Hoagland oversaw the counting process, which was done in public at the Golden Eagle Bingo Hall in Mahnomen.