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.

Bobbi Bowden (incumbent)

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

“The main thing that sets me apart from my respected opponents is my experience as your District 13 Legislator for the last 12 years. I will use my experience as your District 13 Representative to continue to work with our executive branch to continue the growth and success of our great Nation. I am very proud to be part of a government that has helped bring our Tribe to where we are today.”

Candidate closing statement.

“I did not take my decision to run for another term as your District 13 legislative representative lightly. I take my responsibility as your District 13 legislative representative very serious and to heart. After much prayer and reflection, I chose to run again to continue to be a part the progress we have made. We have made great strides but there is always more work to be done to continue and improve.

“When I was elected to the business committee 13 years ago, I had no idea the experience and education ahead of me. This has been the experience of a life time and I am eternally grateful to those who have taken the time to share their knowledge and talents with me.

“If you choose to elect me for another term, my focus will continue to be bringing information to you, our members. I will continue to advocate for medical care, education and economic assistance as well as bring information about tribal culture. Not being raised in a traditional home, I feel like some of you have learned along with me during my journey and I hope to continue that mission.

“I am honored to have served you for the last 13 years and hope I have earned your trust and your vote! Please take the time to return your ballot or better yet vote in person in Shawnee at the Family Reunion Festival. Migwetch (Thank you) for allowing me to serve you the people of our great Nation.”

Michael K. Whistler (challenger)

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

“I have many years of experience as a business owner with many employees. I have had responsibility for not only my welfare, but of many others, through good times and rough times. I have a proven ability to listen to peoples’ ideas and get actual legislation onto the voting agenda. I am fiscally conservative, and know money can only be spent once. I will make wise choices for our Tribe.”

Candidate closing statement.

“I am running for our tribal council because I have reached a place in my life where the combined business, social and family experiences I have had will allow me to help our people to have a more successful and stable Tribe. I am extremely proud of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the folks who have served in the Tribe before me; including my great-aunt Philonese Williams (nee Whistler) and my cousin Bob Whistler. Our Tribe, my direct family (Bourassa) and my immediate family are a people of integrity and honor, and it is my turn to stand up and serve.

“I am asking all who read this to cast your vote for me. I am not a perfect man, but I am a good man, a very hard worker and a bulldog when it comes to helping my people. I raised eight beautiful children and have the energy and stamina to help my larger, Tribal family now that my kids are all out on their own. A vote for Whistler is a wise choice.”

Jay Laughlin (challenger)

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

“I’ve researched my opponents, and one of the major differences is the key initiatives. My platform is held up by the key initiatives of culture, economic prosperity, education, elders programs, the environment, healthcare services and our youth. These initiatives were laid out from the beginning of my candidacy and this has not changed. These initiatives will continue to be in focus for every decision made and every opportunity sought on our Tribe’s behalf.”

Candidate closing statement.

“I am running for CPN Legislate District 13 to promote, protect and foster our culture, economic prosperity, education, environment, elders’ programs, health care systems and our youth. Once elected, I will do my best for the citizens of our Nation.

“We must expand and diversify our business ventures for a balanced portfolio in order to mitigate risk and promote growth. All investments and ventures our Nation undertakes must provide benefits to our citizens and the right team must be established. This team must be solid and unified. Buy-in from the legislative branch, executive branch and individual work groups must be established to reach these common goals. I have the experience and education needed to move our Nation forward with the ability to draw the best out of people.

“As I was writing this I stepped away, and when I came back I found that my twelve-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son had typed this up. It made me smile.

“‘Hello my name is Jaylea Laughlin, and you should vote for my dad. Because there are things that my dad can get done. Jay Laughlin is a hard worker and if you put something in his path he will always push through it, no matter what it is. Vote for Jay Laughlin. He is awesome.’”