Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Red Lake PEC Kicks Off 2016 Election Season

Celebrating 20 Years/Elects 2016 Officers

 

Red Lake PEC met in the antechamber of the Tribal Council Chambers

The Red Lake Political Education Committee (RLPEC), a tribal non-profit, and non-partisan organization, held their annual meeting to kick off the 2016 campaign season and to elect officers. The group met on Friday, November 6, 2015, at noon in the Tribal Council Chambers anteroom.

RLPEC co-chair Michelle Paquin called the meeting to order shortly after noon. All at the table introduced themselves, they included; Stephanie Cobenais, Cheri Goodwin, Jerry Loud, Glenda Martin, Michael Meuers, Michelle Paquin, Mary Ringhand, Toni Stillday (speaker phone), Tim Sumner and guest Mike Simpkins.

Meuers reminded PEC members that PEC would be celebrating its 20th birthday in 2016. Meuers helped organize RL PEC in 1996. Formed during the Whitefeather administration, it was created to educate and register Red Lake Voters so that Red Lake can have a larger impact on issues and candidates. Meuers and Cobenais are both Charter Members of Red Lake PEC.

The year of PEC's birth, (1996) Red Lake member Sandra King was elected as Beltrami County Commissioner, becoming the first American Indian to win a County Commissioner seat anywhere in the state of Minnesota. The seat has continued to be occupied by Red Lake members. Quentin Fairbanks followed King, and Tim Sumner followed Fairbanks nearly three years ago. Sumner is up for reelection in 2016.

2016 Caucus

The 2016 Minnesota State caucuses will be held for all political parties on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at 7 p.m. Caucus locations for Republicans are held off-reservation. (All caucus locations are available by calling the County Auditor) DFL caucuses will be held on the reservation. Little Rock, Red Lake and Redby caucus goers will meet at Red Lake Government Center. Ponemah will meet at the Boys and Girls Club. Caucus Conveners include Ed Strong for Little Rock, Stephanie Cobenais for Red Lake, Mike Stillday for Redby and Roy Nelson for Ponemah.

Grant submissions were discussed as a means to fund RLPEC activities that include registering people to vote and then to get them to the polls. RLPEC works with other entities concerned with getting out the vote in Indian Country, one of which is the Native Vote Alliance (NVA). Toni Stillday volunteered to represent PEC at NVA meetings.

Guest Mike Simpkins, who works for the Minnesota House Caucus gave a report. He said that the next election is very important and expects many Native Issues to be on campaign agendas. He also has frequent contact with Native Vote Alliance. He says that their goal is to have 50% of Native votes cast before Election Day.

Simpkins also reported that the Beltrami County DFL is giving serious thought to holding their 2016 Beltrami County Convention at Red Lake sometime in March. The convention has never been held outside Bemidji in this writer's memory.

PEC members also discussed ways to recruit new and more members. Inviting the community coordinators, America-Corp, the Red Lake Youth Council, urban offices, and members of the Red Lake Constitution Reform Committee was thought to be good places to start.

Jerry Loud, a member of the Constitution Reform Committee, said the committee hopes to have the first vote on Constitutional Reform to be conducted along with the General Election in November of 2016. It was felt by members that this could be good incentive for get-out-the-vote efforts, which will then help elect candidates favorable to Indian Country. Red Lake voting in large numbers can easily influence the outcome of state and local elections.

Election of Officers

Michelle Paquin was nominated and re-elected as Co-Chair of Red Lake PEC. She has served in that capacity for many years and all agreed that she has done an excellent job. Tim Sumner, declined to seek reelection as the other Co-Chair. He cited that he expects to be busy seeking reelection as Beltrami County Commissioner. Jerry Loud was then nominated and elected (somewhat reluctantly) to serve as PEC's other Co-Chair. That's what he gets for peeking his head in on the meeting.

Treasurer Mary Ringhand was nominated to be reelected to her current office. She accepted and was elected unanimously. The current PEC Secretary Cheri Goodwin also declined to continue serving due to the responsibilities of her new job with Family and Children Services. Michael Meuers was then nominated for Secretary and was elected unanimously.

Red Lake PEC Officers, left to right Michelle Paquin - co-chair, Michael Meuers ¬ Secretary, Mary Ringhand ¬ Treasurer, and Jerry Loud - co¬chair

The Red Lake Political Education Committee will be meeting again in December, date to be announced. If you would like to be involved in RLPEC, please contact anyone from the committee.

RL PEC Mission Statement: The Red Lake Political Education Committee (RLPEC) was formed in 1996 to educate and register Red Lake voters. We take pride in being the oldest, most active, and effective Political Education Committee in Minnesota's Indian Country.

The purpose of this corporation (RLPEC) is:

• To support and conduct nonpartisan research, education, and informational activities to increase public awareness about their right to vote and participate in elections.

• To increase voter participation in tribal, state, and federal elections within the membership of the Red Lake band of Chippewa Indians and;

• To increase voters knowledge of political and social issues.

 

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