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Tribal primary vote Tuesday

On Tuesday, voting members of the White Earth Band of Chippewa will be heading to the polls to decide whose names will be on the ballot when the tribe's general elections get underway on June 3.

A total of 26 candidates are in the running for the April 4 primary, with the top two vote getters for each of three open positions on the tribal council earning a slot on the June 3 election ballot.

The three positions to be filled this year include council seats for Districts 1 and 2 as well as secretary-treasurer.

Incumbent secretary/treasurer Franklin "Bud" Heisler, District 1 committee person Irene "Rene" Auginaush and District 2 committee person Anthony "Tony" Wadena have all filed for re-election; each will be challenged by a full slate of candidates.

A total of nine challengers have filed for Heisler's position, including John B. Buckanaga, Lucille "Teedo" Sullivan Silk, Robert Durant, Geraldine "Fuzzy" Bellanger, Darryl "Boone" Wadena, Teresa A. "Terri" Thompson, Lori "Queenie" Gellings, Elmer "Gene" Tibbetts and Kenneth R. Fox, Jr.

Wadena, meanwhile, will face off against eight challengers -- including the man he unseated from the tribal council in the 2002 elections, Terrance "Amik" Burnette.

The others who have filed for the District 2 position are Robert "Hud" Webster, Joe Bush, Jr., Terrance "Terry" Tibbetts, DelAllen "Del" Bellanger, Monte Maibori, Terry Roy and Larry Olson.

Auginaush will be challenged by six candidates, including Henry G. Fox, Steven "Punky" Clark, Alfred E. Fox, Don Herchell Goodwin, Nathan LaFriniere and Mary Jane Beaulieu.

According to Gary Padrta of the White Earth public relations office, a total of 15 polling places have been established for the primary, including sites for enrolled members who do not live within the boundaries of the reservation.

Each of those polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the date of the election, Padrta added.

Those polling places are as follows:

District 1: The Anywaush residence in Pine Bend, the Lenore Moran residence in Beaulieu, the Bejou Community Center and the new Rice Lake Community Center.

District 2: The White Earth Tribal College library in Mahnomen, the old Naytahwaush Community Center and the Waubun Fire Hall.

District 3: Callaway Community Center, Elbow Lake Community Center, the old Pine Point School, the White Earth Tribal Office and the Ogema VFW Hall.

Minneapolis: Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin.

Cass Lake: Leech Lake Facility Center.

Absentee ballots may also be requested and filled out; these ballots will be accepted by mail or in person at any of the above polling places until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Padrta said.

Though turnout for the tribal primary has traditionally followed the same pattern as Minnesota state and county elections, with far fewer people showing up to cast their ballots in the primary, Padrta noted that there is one key difference between the state and tribal elections.

"Any single candidate receiving 51 percent of the vote in the primary wins the election outright," Padrta noted.

But in past elections with multiple candidates for each position, this has been an extremely rare occurrence, he added.

Questions concerning the upcoming primary or June 3 general elections may be directed to the White Earth Election Board at 218-936-5622, 1-866-21-9154 (toll free) or fax, 218-936-5623.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454