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April 30, 2019
Tribal candidate Q&As: May 2019 — District 10
May 2, 2019

Tribal candidate Q&As: May 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)

How would you address the issue of growing Tribal enrollment? Is there a point where you believe it should be limited?

“I do not think the best way to handle growing Tribal enrollment is by limiting enrollment. In order to continue to provide the benefits and services to our members we need to take steps to insure our current enterprises continue to prosper as well as adding new enterprises and sources of income for the Nation. I like to think of our Tribes legacy being carried on by my grandchildren, their children and so on long after I leave this Earth.”

What are some specific ways you believe CPN can diversify investments?

“While our Nation already has a very diverse portfolio, I believe adding residential and commercial real estate development would be aa ideal addition to our Nations assets. These developments would create new jobs and economic opportunities to continue the growth of our tribe.”

Oklahoma legislators have a unique role as at-large representatives, what will you do to involve fellow Citizen Potawatomi in the governing process here?

“In order to help involve fellow tribal members in the governing process I would continue to be available to meet and or speak with members, listen and do my best to answer their questions and help as much as I possibly can. I would also like to see meetings in different areas of our state to bring the information to our members.

“And as a reminder the most important thing tribal members can do to be involved in the governing process is to vote.”

How do you define leadership?

“The definition of leadership in my opinion is someone that strives to be of service to the members, who seeks continuous improvement, listens, and gives of themself with honesty and integrity.”

Michael K. Whistler (challenger)

How would you address the issue of growing Tribal enrollment? Is there a point where you believe it should be limited?

“A greater population of CPN citizens is better. Tribes that work to limit their size dwindle away until they change their policies to grow once more. Perhaps some think that their ‘slice of the pie’ will get smaller if there are more citizens. But like love, which just keeps growing, our Tribe can keep growing without hurting anyone.

“Guess what? We can bake more pie! Good leadership will allow us to keep up with our Tribal growth.”

What are some specific ways you believe CPN can diversify investments?

“We must pursue business opportunities that make products. These businesses not only generate profit from sales of the products, but create quality jobs that support families and our communities. The CPN has started down this path, but we need to turn that path into a road, and then expand it into a highway of opportunity and success.”

Oklahoma legislators have a unique role as at-large representatives, what will you do to involve fellow Citizen Potawatomi in the governing process here?

“My role in the national association I worked with put me in daily contact with it’s members for many years. I have become very adept at getting the desires of the members onto the agenda at the legislative table. I am a champion of other people’s good ideas, which is required of a Legislator for our Tribe. I have some good ideas, but best ideas have usually come from others.”

How do you define leadership?

“Leadership is the ability to sift through the good and the bad, the sad and the wonderful, the angry and the joyful, the smart and the indifferent, and choose a direction that benefits all, yet does not upset so many that one is ousted …”

Jay Laughlin (challenger)

How would you address the issue of growing Tribal enrollment? Is there a point where you believe it should be limited?

“I don’t see growing Tribal enrollment as an issue but rather as an opportunity. An opportunity to thrive in our culture, our heritage, and our prosperity. The key is to bring our Nation together during this growth. There are always challenges with every opportunity.

“To be eligible for citizenship individuals must have a lineal ancestor that was enrolled, and I firmly stand behind this. In no way should citizenship be limited based on blood quantum. By establishing blood quantum requirements sooner or later our Nation would be non-existent and our treaties with the federal government would be non-existent.”

What are some specific ways you believe CPN can diversify investments?

“All investments and ventures our Nation undertakes must provide benefits to our citizens and the right team must be established. In addition to the ideas on facebook.com/JayLaughlin4CPN, I’ve envisioned a large scale fueling and maintenance operation within a few mile radius of the Grand Casino with light-rail service as well as a business collaboration center.

“The business collaboration center will promote citizen owned businesses, partnerships with universities, and be a focal point for our new enterprises. We need to diversify in government contracting as well as the private sector. The business collaboration center will bring creativity as well as expertise.”

Oklahoma legislators have a unique role as at-large representatives, what will you do to involve fellow Citizen Potawatomi in the governing process here?

“Communication is key. I see the continuation of the monthly legislative columns in the Hownikan as well as the recordings of the legislative sessions. To help facilitate more communication, I will collaborate with our communications department to see how we can utilize technology to focus on issues and opportunities that receive the most attention from our citizens. I also think it would be a good idea to hold periodic district meetings within the State of Oklahoma at different locations where a large numbers of our citizens live.”

How do you define leadership?

“Leadership is the process of taking a vision and translating it into reality. Leadership is the ability to influence others and receive buy-in to reach a common goal. Leadership is provided by a leader that has passion, integrity, and the ability to communicate this vision. A leader draws the best out of people and empowers them to reach the common goal.”