TRAVERSE CITY — Thurlow “Sam” McClellan contends elected officials with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians make too many decisions behind closed doors.
That’s one of the reasons he’s running for Tribal Council this year.
“It seems there are things going on that need to be exposed, and I will expose them,” McClellan said. “My feeling is the thief steals at night time.”
McClellan is one of 17 Band members vying for three seats on the seven-member council. A primary will be held April 8 to narrow the field to six; those who make the cut will appear on the May 13 ballot.
Two incumbents, Jane Rohl and Robert Kewaygoshkum are running for reelection. Neither could be reached for comment. Council member George Antoine’s term is up, but he is not running again. He declined to comment.
Chairman Al Pedwaydon did not return requests for comment.
Members of the Tribal Council act as legislators for the Band, said Wilson Brott, a local attorney who represents the band’s Election Board. Council members also form the Band’s Economic Development Corporation board, which runs the Band’s casinos, gas station and store, Brott said.
Two candidates also are running for the Gaming Commission and will appear on the May ballot.
McClellan, who serves as a water quality specialist for the Band’s Natural Resources Department, said other issues facing the Band include renegotiating the gambling compact with the state and the two percent money agreement, which he supports. He’s also been involved in Band politics before, he said.
He wants council members to bring new ideas to the table.
“We need visionaries, not caretakers,” McClellan said.
Voting will take place 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.
Band members over 18 who live in Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee counties can vote. The registration deadline for the primaries passed, but those hoping to vote in the May election must register by May 7.