Tulalip Tribes return former chairman to board

TULALIP — Former Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon Jr. was returned to the tribal board of directors after annual elections Saturday.

Sheldon, who was also elected chairman of the board in a separate vote Saturday, returns to the board a year after he was ousted.

“I have had a year to reflect and a year to learn from mistakes,” Sheldon said.

He said he will continue working to increase communication and transparency with the tribal membership.

Board member Marlin Fryberg Jr., a former detective with the Tulalip Police Department, also won re-election to the board.

There were 15 candidates running for the two seats up for election. Board member Deborah Parker did not run for re-election.

Sheldon was elected chair and Glen Gobin, the current board treasurer, was elected vice-chair.

Les Parks, the current vice-chair, will be the next treasurer, and board secretary Marie Zackuse will continue in that position.

Current chairman Herman Williams Sr. will remain on the board as an at-large member. Williams did not provide a comment on the election as of Tuesday.

Board members are elected for three-year terms.

Rather than run head-to-head for specific seats, board seats are won by the candidates with the highest number of votes from among tribal members.

Sheldon received 405 votes in Saturday’s tally at the Tulalip Resort and Casino, where balloting was held. Fryberg garnered 319 votes.

Sheldon credited the board and Chairman Williams for their work on several issues in the past year. These included the discussions held among tribal members following the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which now gives tribal authorities the ability to prosecute domestic violence crimes committed on the reservation against non-tribal members, and after the October shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

“My hands are up to Herman Williams Sr., our chairman,” Sheldon said. “We had some very sensitive issues that came out, like how we protect our women and children, and through his leadership we were able to have that discussion.”

He also credited outgoing board member Deborah Parker for her role in the 2013 VAWA reauthorization. Parker helped save the tribal provisions in the law in Washington, D.C., when she spoke out about her family’s experience with domestic abuse.

Sheldon was a commercial fisherman before joining the Tribes’ board of directors 16 years ago. He served as chairman from 2009 to 2014. In the past year, he has worked as senior vice president of Native American Affairs for Strategies 360, a public policy consulting and lobbying firm.

He will leave that job when he is sworn in at the tribe’s next board meeting on April 4.

The Tulalip Tribes have about 4,000 members, with about 2,500 living on the Tulalip Indian Reservation near Marysville.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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