In addition to the annual Tribal budget, Citizen Potawatomi voters will cast ballots for two 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.

Paul Schmidlkofer (incumbent)

Where are you from?

“I was born at Altus Air Force Base in southwestern Oklahoma. My dad made a career of the Air Force after a short stint in the Navy. Because of this, we moved around every couple of years. I spent time in Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Florida. Most of my formative years were spent in Shawnee and Tecumseh, though.”

What Potawatomi family are you a descendant of?

“My grandmother Nellie Tesceir was the daughter of Anthony Tescier and Clarissa Greemore, both Potawatomi. Her grandparents on her dad’s side were Anthony Tescier and Catherine Bourbannais and on her mother’s side Basil Greemore and Catherine Welch, an Ouilmette descendant. There are many other Tribal names that pop up in my family tree as well.”

Tell us about high school, college and other educational achievements.

I graduated from Tecumseh High School in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. After high school, I received a scholarship and went to Oklahoma State University where I received my degree in industrial design. Later, I received a degree is social science from St. Gregory’s University followed by a graduate degree in educational administration from East Central University. Recently, I have taken several post-graduate courses from the University of Central Missouri in engineering education for my current job.”

What do you do for a living?

“Currently, I am an instructor at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in their Pre-Engineering Academy. Before going to work there, I held the position of associate mechanical design engineer at Seagate Technologies Inc. in Oklahoma City.”

What experiences do you have that can be applied to a legislative position with the Tribe?

“My Tribal resume by today’s standard is quite varied. My first position was an elected member of the old Grievance Committee where I served for five years. More recently, I served as a member of the Business Committee, the precursor to today’s Legislative committee member, which I now serve as. In total, I believe I have 22 years of elected service to the Nation. Add to that my many years of involvement as a Tribal member.”

Describe your first experience truly appreciating what it was like to be a Citizen Potawatomi.

“I spent a good portion of my youth living right down the road from the Tribal complex. So I was exposed from an early age to my Tribe. This is different from so many of our members who may not even have been to our land. I grew up watching us grow from the small humble beginnings. I watched as we tried to create opportunity for so many years. I also watched as we began the growth we have experienced. It was a long process. I took advantage of the cultural aspects of living close. I was able to participate in the old powwow we had. I was involved in the arts and crafts program. The year I turned 18, I voted in the old General Council meeting format. Many know my father was chairman of the Tribe for a couple terms, and because of this, my brothers and I spent a considerable amount of time volunteering around the old complex working on maintenance issues. We also became quite well versed in the happenings around there. I guess the best I can remember I have always been Potawatomi.”