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 held Q&As with each candidate.
Paul Schmidlkofer (incumbent)
How do you plan to include Tribal constituents’ voices in decision-making?
“During my time as a legislator and before that as a Business Committee Member, I have always been available through the Nation’s website via email. Additionally I have had a presence on social media formats for many years where members could contact me. I always listen to Tribal members and as much as is possible consider each one.”
What would be the first two things you would set out to accomplish as a legislator, if elected?
“As an incumbent, I will continue serving as I always have.”
Can you provide an example of a time you made a mistake and learned from it?
“Not that I have not, but none come to mind.”
What makes Citizen Potawatomi Nation unique to you?
“I do not know if unique is something I experience. My Tribe is part of me. I grew up knowing I was a member. I grew up living down the street from the Nation and experiencing what we have accomplished. I grew up living much of the life I have now knowing I was a member. It is just something I am.”
How have you researched your Potawatomi heritage?
“No but I have several relatives who have accomplished extensive research and have shared it with me. They have our family tree well beyond coming to Oklahoma. Like many, I am still finding relatives I did not know I had. This is mostly because so many ‘Okies left the state and scattered to the four winds during the Dust Bowl Era. We are in many cases just now reconnecting.”
Do you have any ideas on how to increase voter participation in Tribal elections as a legislator?
“For well over 20 years, others and I have struggled with different things we could do. It seems unless the Executive Branch members are up for election attendance is often down at the polls. I do not have any direct data but I would suggest the last time we saw a big increase was when we started having the Family Festival.”
What is a tribal or cultural issue you find important that you believe is lacking in current Citizen Potawatomi life?
“I believe our language department has made great progress in making our language available to every member of the Nation. I also know they are still looking at additional things they can do. I think some members still are looking for cultural specific learning. This is an area that maybe we can investigate.”