TULALIP — A Tulalip tribal board member who resigned last year after he failed a drug test is running for one of three open slots on the tribes’ leadership team.
Herman Williams Jr. is among a dozen candidates, including current Board Chairman Mel Sheldon and board members Glen Gobin and Chuck James, who are vying for the spots.
Tribal members will vote on March 22 at the tribes’ biannual General Council Meeting. The board has seven members, each serving staggered, three-year terms. The board chairman is chosen after all seven positions are filled on election day.
Williams said his time away from the board has given him a unique perspective.
“In my first year on the council, we broke the million-dollar mark in revenue,” he said. “Now, we’re somewhere between the $300 and $400 million mark. We put a lot of folks on the business side, but today we need to focus on the social and health services side.”
Many tribal members struggle with basic financial skills such as balancing a checkbook, Williams said.
Williams said his drug test last year showed evidence of minimal marijuana use. He was not required to resign from his post, but said he chose to be held to the highest of standards in order to be a role model for tribal members.
“I just had my one-year anniversary,” he said, referring to one year clean of drug use.
Williams had served on the board for 16 years, including at least one year as board chairman.
James said the board is working more than ever to educate every tribal member in preparation for jobs beyond what’s offered in the casinos.
“We want to be self-sustaining, and that’s going to be a long-term process,” he said.
James, who was once vice president of a steel company, said his busiest years have been those that he’s served on the tribal board.
“We’re running a government and a city,” he said. “It’s somewhat overwhelming, but we’re learning how to do this. I think we are breaking ground as far as a lot of tribes are concerned.”
Board memberships are paid, full-time positions. The candidates are Williams, James, Sheldon and Gobin, as well as Brent Cleveland, Helene Contraro, David Fryberg Jr., Melvin Jones McClellan, Harold “JuJu” Joseph Jr., Jared Parks, Dawn Simpson and Cal Taylor.
Election season on the Tulalip Indian Reservation is colorful and filled with debate, as candidates line Marine Drive with handmade signs and advertise campaign promises. This year, voting will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. on March 22. Tribal members will also have a chance to express their opinions and concerns in public that day, during the general council meeting.
Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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