By Paula Quam, Published March 29 2014
Forum News ServiceWHITE EARTH, Minn. –Primaries will take place Tuesday for the White Earth Indian Reservation, with elections happening at 12 precincts around the reservation and two off it, in Cass Lake and Minneapolis.
Up for grabs are two of the three seats on the White Earth Tribal Council – District I and II, as well as secretary-treasurer.
This year, 14 candidates have thrown their hats in for those three races, which will be whittled down to two for each seat. Those candidates will then proceed to the general election June 10.
Those elected to the positions in June will become part of a leadership team on the reservation that will inevitably be a part of the transition between the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution and its newly adopted White Earth Constitution, which reservation leaders say will be a long, involved process that is expected to take several years.
District I, which encompasses the area north of Highway 200, including Bejou, Pine Bent and Rice Lake, had only two filings – incumbent of 18 years Irene Auginaush and Steven Clark, both of the Rice
This means both will proceed to the general election and there will be no primary for the representative position.
Five candidates are running for District II representative, which encompasses the central part of the reservation that includes Mahnomen, Naytahwaush and Waubun.
Candidates include incumbent Terrance Tibbetts Sr. of Naytahwaush, Patleen Straub of Waubun, Brenda Weaver of Mahnomen, Kathy Goodwin of Naytahwaush, Kimberly Scott-Neisen of Mahnomen, Justin Keezer of Mahnomen and Joe Bush of Naytahwaush.
Although creating a couple of off-reservation representative positions was part of White Earth’s newly adopted constitution last fall, reservation officials say it is far too early to implement that change, and this year’s election will still fall within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe structure.
Incumbent of four years Robert Durant of Mahnomen will be up against four other candidates for the position of secretary-treasurer.
They are Karen Manypenny of Rice Lake, Merlin Deegan Sr. of Mahnomen, Tara Mason of Callaway and Raymond Auginaush Sr. of Rice Lake.
The secretary-treasurer and the representative positions are all four-year terms.
Election Judge Monica Hedstrom said the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but if residents can’t make it Tuesday, the election board office in the Shooting Star Casino RV parking lot is open for walk-in absentee voting. That is also where results will come in Tuesday night.
Hedstrom said they have been processing absentee ballots throughout this month, and she expects to have unofficial results by 9 or 10 p.m. Tuesday.
The ballots will then be hand-counted Wednesday.