In addition to the annual Tribal budget, Citizen Potawatomi voters will cast ballots for three competitive races for Oklahoma’s at-large legislative seats this June. The Hownikan asked the candidates about their backgrounds and reasons for running for Tribal office.

Lisa Kraft (incumbent)

What makes your platform or candidacy differ from your fellow district candidates?

“The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has the potential to expand services in healthcare, employment and training, childcare, housing, and educational scholarships to kids K-12 as well as higher ed, and not just in Oklahoma but to our members everywhere in America. I want to work with our legislature to pass laws to make this happen.”

Candidate closing statement.

“I work closely with self-governance tribal leaders and have for 25 years. I help formulate laws, policies, strategic plans, business plans, and implementation plans for Oklahoma tribes. I then find the money to pay for it. This gives me insight into how other tribes conduct themselves and how to navigate through the federal government to get what I want for Indian Country.

“I work with tribal management, employees, and contractors to actually plan for and build communities. I help tribes implement programs and new businesses. I excel in federal compliance. Having secured millions of federal dollars for Indian people — our Tribe and others — I have the knowledge and experience to be an effective tribal lawmaker and evaluate performance.

“I am running for my legislative seat again because I want to continue trying to introduce Tribal law. I also want to debate my ideas in committee.

“I am a lone wolf on our legislature in wanting to amend our Tribal constitution. I think we need term limits on the executive branch members and the executive branch should be separate from the legislative branch. Our ordinances prohibit an elected official from holding two elected positions at the same time.

“This will also open three new legislative seats for Oklahoma lawmakers and balance Oklahoma with the eight legislators outside of Oklahoma.”

John Tom Anderson (challenger)

What makes your platform or candidacy differ from your fellow district candidates?

“I don’t know that there is a glaring difference in my fellow candidates and myself. We are all looking towards the future of our Tribe and its members. Having said that, I believe I can bring some benefit in the Tribe’s finances and policy making to try and enhance and make the future brighter for our members. It would be an honor to represent the Tribe and District 11.”

Candidate closing statement.

“I believe as a Tribe we need to continue to fight and keep our American Indian sovereignty. It is imperative we continue to grow our Tribal membership for the future of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. As a legislator and representative of District 11, the future prosperity and financial strength of the CPN Tribe would be my most important focus.

“We should continue to increase the opportunities for job growth and advancement for our Tribal members. If we are a financially strong tribe it opens the doors for CPN members to prosper and thrive going forward. Knowing that the CPN is the largest employer in Pottawatomie County says a lot for the leadership of our Tribe. By not re-inventing the wheel, keep the momentum that is currently embedded and continue the success that our Tribal Leaders have been able to maintain.

“It would be my honor to represent the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and District 11 in the future growth of our tribe and its members.”

Christina Brasfield (challenger)

What makes your platform or candidacy differ from your fellow district candidates?

“I am not the incumbent nor am I backed by the Tribal chairman. My experience is in technology and web development, not politics. I am a Tribal member who grew up poor and became successful through sweat, tears, and determination. I live by ‘be the change you want to see in this world’ — the best way to tackle new experiences head-on is with an open-mind, determination, alongside constituent insight, involvement, communication, and feedback.”

Candidate closing statement.

“Thank you for considering me for candidacy for District 11. This is the first time I have ran for a legislative position and while I may be inexperienced in the field of politics, I know who I am as a Tribal member and what I would like to accomplish as your representative. I am like you, a hard-working soul seeking to make the world a better place.

“While we have many opportunities available to us internally, there are also outside prospects available. Organization foundations assist with back-pack programs, summer camp sponsorships, scholarships and more. We should leverage these opportunities for the betterment of our Tribal members.

“I have been unsuccessful in reaching out to Tribal members due to privacy concerns; I want people to feel free to reach out to me. I believe we need to increase member-to-member communication, knowledge share, and have a platform where we can discuss our issues, celebrate our successes, embolden our voice, and secure our future.

“I am fortunate to travel for work occasionally and have met many people who are interested in my Native American background. People as a whole are uninformed about what it means — the constant threat to our sovereignty, the plights that face our sister tribes, and how our society functions alongside the federal and state governments. In these moments, I seize the opportunity to educate. We are here, we are not forgotten, and we are thriving while keeping roots with our heritage.”