Tribal candidate Q&As: March 2019 — District 10
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March 6, 2019

Tribal candidate Q&As: March 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)

Where are you from?

“I grew up and currently live in Choctaw, Oklahoma, which is about 30-45 minutes west of Shawnee. My family moved to Choctaw in 1972. Other than a short time in Texas, I have lived in Oklahoma all my life.”

What Potawatomi family are you from?

“I am a descendent of the Trombla family.”

Tell us where you graduated high school from, college and/or other education achievements?

“After graduating from Choctaw High School, I attended Rose State College and the University of Oklahoma working towards a degree in finance. I received my Interior Design Certification from New York Institute of Art Design, and I am also a licensed realtor in the state of Oklahoma.”

What do you do for a living?

“After over 25 years in the banking and title industry, I decided it was time to follow my design passion. I currently have my own interior design business working with residential and commercial construction as well as selling real estate.”

How has being a Tribal member impacted your life?

“Being a Tribal member is about something much bigger than myself. It is a sense of pride in my heritage. That pride gives me strength. When I think about some of the adversity and obstacles our ancestors faced, I know I can get through anything life throws at me.”

Why, specifically, are you running for the CPN Legislature?

“Serving as an elected member of our legislature is a way for me to give back and honor my heritage while helping to ensure the growth and success of our Tribe. With our enrollment increasing at a rapid rate, it is more important than ever that the executive branch and the legislature continue to work together.”

Jay Laughlin (challenger)

Where are you from?

“I live just north of Edmond, Oklahoma, in Logan County. I was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, and moved to Lexington, Oklahoma, soon after.”

What Potawatomi family are you from?

“My lineage is traced back to Kesh-now-quah — Angelique (Afternoon Woman), the daughter of Potawatomi Chief Waubansee and Pierre Navarre. Both my father and grandfather were born in Wannette, Oklahoma, where my family was resettled in the late 1860s. My great-grandmother Emily (Weddle) Laughlin is listed on the 1937 rolls, and her grandmother Frances (Navarre) Milot is listed on the 1887 rolls.”

Tell us where you graduated high school from, college and/or other education achievements?

“I graduated high school from Lexington High. After graduating high school, I pursued my degrees at Oklahoma City Community College, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian University. I currently have a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in finance. I’m licensed to practice biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and petroleum engineering.”

What do you do for a living?

“I’ve worked primarily in the oil and gas industry, and lived in various places across the U.S. and France. After making it back to Oklahoma in 2009, I’ve continued to work in the oil and gas industry, focusing on the environmental sector and in the government contracting sector. I’m an engineer, investor, activist and small business owner.”

How has being a Tribal member impacted your life?

“Being a citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation has had numerous impacts on my life. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has helped me with my education and living expenses when I needed it the most as well as given me an understanding of my cultural identity. I am very proud to be a citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.”

Why, specifically, are you running for the CPN Legislature?

“Our existence and success is a product of our ancestors’ overcomings, as our youth are a product of our overcomings. We all have challenges that we’ve overcome and will continue to overcome, it’s in our blood. We are in a period of revival and rejuvenation.

“I am running for CPN Legislative District 13 to promote, protect and foster our culture, economic prosperity, education, environment, elders programs, health care systems and our youth.”

Michael K. Whistler (challenger)

Where are you from?

“I reside in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

“I was born overseas and grew up military on multiple duty stations. My father was born in Drumright, grandparents in Wanette and Cushing, and the three generations before them were from Lexington, Oklahoma (Five generations OK/Indian Territory).”

What Potawatomi family are you from?

“The Bourassa family.”

Tell us where you graduated high school from, college and/or other education achievements?

“I graduated high school in San Diego, California.”

What do you do for a living?

“I work in the tile and flooring industry and construction contracting.”

How has being a Tribal member impacted your life?

“Being born a Citizen Potawatomi always gave me an identity of honor and integrity, from a strong culture.”

Why, specifically, are you running for the CPN Legislature?

“I am entering Tribal service following my family tradition. My second cousin Bob Whistler (my Dad’s generation) and my great-aunt Philonese Williams (nee Whistler) have both served the Tribe honorably and productively, and I have much to offer our Tribe for a great future!”