TRAVERSE CITY — Tribal members who live outside the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians’ cultural and government sphere in Leelanau County are too often forgotten, one candidate for tribal office said.
That’s certainly the case with his Antrim County family, tribal council candidate Frank Wilson said.
“The council is made up of Peshawbestown representatives, who live in Peshawbestwon and work in Peshawbestown and their main focus is Peshawbestown,” Wilson said.
That’s why Wilson’s running for Tribal Council this year: to give a voice to Band members who live outside the Suttons Bay area.
“I aim to represent every county, especially those of the north, like Antrim, Charlevoix, and even Grand Traverse,” Wilson said.
Wilson is one of six Band members who vie for election Tuesday for three seats on the seven-member Tribal Council. Council members act as the legislature for the Band and serve on its Economic Development Corporation board.
The Band boasts about 4,000 members, said local attorney Wilson Brott, who represents the band’s Election Board. Around 1,000 members are eligible to vote, he said.
The band owns and operates the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, the Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge and the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel.
Other candidates include current Tribal Council Treasurer Jane Rohl; former Tribal Chairman Derek Bailey; Wilson’s second cousin, Mark Wilson; former Council member Thurlow “Sam” McClellan; and Tanya Raphael.
Bob Kewaygoshkum, the current Council vice chairman, did not make the cut from the 17-person primary field. Tribal voters whittled the candidate list last month.
Bailey, who last sat on the Council in 2012, said he decided to run at the request of other Band members.
“I think that it gets back to promotion and advocacy of our sovereignty, treaty rights and our culture,” Bailey said.
McClellan told the Record-Eagle in April he wants the Council to be more transparent.
None of the other candidates could be reached for comment.
Band voters also will select a new Gaming Commissioner.
Elections will be held Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the GTB Tribal Administration Building in the Leelanau County community of Peshawbestown; the Band’s Charlevoix Satellite Office; Traverse City Three Mile Education Office; and the Band’s Benzie/Manistee Satellite Office.