Tribal candidate Q&As: April 2019 — District 11
April 2, 2019
Family is a link to the past and a bridge to our future
April 4, 2019

Tribal candidate Q&As: April 2019 — District 13

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)

Tell us about a meaningful experience you have had practicing Potawatomi culture?

“One of the most meaningful cultural experiences I have had is also one of my first experiences, and that was receiving my Potawatomi name. I am blessed to carry on the name Pkuhshnoqua, the name given to my great-great grandmother Rozetta Trombla.”

What is the biggest issue in Indian Country you see impacting CPN? How would you address that?

“The greatest challenge facing us is an ongoing one. As our population grows it is more important than ever for our enterprises to continue to grow to increase our revenue, so we can continue to provide benefits and services to our membership and hopefully expand benefits and services to members outside our current service area. The legislative branch must continue to work with our executive leaders to ensure continued success.”

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

“The experience I have to offer as one of your Oklahoma representatives is just that, experience. My experience in real estate as well as starting and running my own business, along with the experience I have gained on the business committee, at the time our new constitution was established, and as one of our Oklahoma representatives since that time will help me continue to serve our Nation to the best of my ability.”

What do you see as the Tribe’s next significant project? How would you approach that as a legislator?

“What I see as the Tribe’s next big project is to develop and bring new enterprises to the Tribe. The growth of our enterprises is imperative in the continued success of our Nation. We must continue to grow and prosper to continue to provide benefits to our members.”

Jay Laughlin (challenger)

Tell us about a meaningful experience you have had practicing Potawatomi culture?

“We’ve all had traits, lessons and influences passed down from generation to generation even though this was greatly hindered by forced assimilation. On a daily basis, I strive to live by the Seven Teachings of love, honesty, bravery, respect, humility, wisdom and truth. I also instill these values in my children.

“I truly enjoy going to the annual Family Reunion Festival and visiting our Cultural Heritage Center with my friends and family.”

What is the biggest issue in Indian Country you see impacting CPN? How would you address that?

“In order to protect and nurture our culture, identity and services, we need to greatly expand our economic prosperity. Our enterprises provide economic sustainability for our citizens and the communities we live in making our Nation stronger. I will promote the expansion of our enterprises in farming, gaming, technology, commercial, and the industrial sectors for a balanced portfolio. This will bring success to our Nation through quality jobs and investment returns for generations to come.”

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

“I have directed multi-million dollar projects in various capacities, been on the board and supported non-profit organizations, raised children, been married, failed and got up again to succeed.

“I have the experience and education needed to move our Nation forward. Most importantly I understand humility. I listen and understand that I do not have all of the answers nor do I know everything. I’m a team player and know we can and will succeed together.”

What do you see as the Tribe’s next significant project? How would you approach that as a legislator?

“Expansion of our enterprises and industries. We must first establish and continue to establish long-term lease agreements with firms at the Iron Horse Industrial Park. These firms will provide high quality jobs and economic prosperity for our citizens and local community. I will work directly with the legislature, executive branch, potential tenants and CPN staff to ensure this project comes to fruition.

“Secondly, we need to expand our commercial enterprises near the Grand Casino.”

Michael K. Whistler (challenger)

Tell us about a meaningful experience you have had practicing Potawatomi culture?

“I was raised that Citizen Potawatomi help others. My wife and I prayed for a way to help and began fostering at-risk children. We fostered a young girl, Cecily, for nearly two years, when we were informed that she needed to be adopted, but only by Tribal members. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe found us acceptable after finding out we were a CPN family. We also adopted her older half sibling, Blake (also Northern Cheyenne).”

What is the biggest issue in Indian Country you see impacting CPN? How would you address that?

“Our Tribe has made great strides in growing our economic security by investing not only in casinos, but in many other businesses. We must grow and protect the good start we’ve made for our future, and our children’s and grandchildren’s futures. I’ve lived in Montana, another state with large Native populations, and have seen both successes and failures in other Tribe’s decisions and policies, and can help ensure we stay headed in the correct direction.”

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

“I have been a business owner for over 35 years; many, many years with revenues in the multi-millions. I also served on the board of directors for a national association. I have the practical experience and leadership qualities to help our Tribe manage and grow our diverse businesses, and legislate to ensure our continuing growth. Without profitable gains, growth of our Tribal Programs for our elders, youth, and our financial success will be jeopardized.”

What do you see as the Tribe’s next significant project? How would you approach that as a legislator?

“I have been witness to some of the beginnings of our newest project, a huge new factory that will likely be occupying the Iron Horse business area that Chairman Barrett has worked so diligently on. I can help to facilitate the growth and success that out Tribe is blessed with. It takes constant care to ensure a venture succeeds, and I can contribute greatly to the need for experienced and successful leaders in our Tribe.”