Colville tribes vote in new council
NESPELEM, Wash. – Colville tribal members last week elected six new members to their governing council.
Only Colville Tribal Chairman Michael Finley retained his seat on the Colville Business Council in the June 16 general election, which was certified Thursday. One sitting council member opted not to run for re-election, two were defeated in primary elections and three were defeated in Saturday’s election.
Half of the 14-member governing council are up for re-election to a two-year term each year.
The economy was a major issue in this election, and while those newly elected were not united in what should happen with a $193 million settlement recently awarded to the tribe by the federal government, it was a major topic in the final weeks of this year’s campaign.
Joanne Sanchez, a tribal member who led the charge to distribute half of the settlement money instead of 20 percent, said only two of the newly elected candidates promised to fight for distributing more of the money to members. But while some of those elected favor investing the remaining 80 percent in creating new industries, they are promising to involve members in that decision.
John Sirois, an Omak tribal member and new council member, said he still hasn’t decided the best use of the settlement funds and wants to listen to members before determining how much should be set aside for future generations.