Diver, Defoe to face off for tribal chairIncumbent Fond du Lac Tribal Chair Karen Diver will face former Tribal Chair Peter Defoe in June’s General Election.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Incumbent Fond du Lac Tribal Chair Karen Diver will face former Tribal Chair Peter Defoe in June’s General Election. The two were the top vote-getters in Tuesday’s Primary, with Diver garnering 599 votes (47.28 percent) to Defoe’s 269 (21.23 percent). Diver replaced Defoe in 2007 after he stepped down from office for undisclosed reasons. Defoe had served as chairman from 2004-06 and was treasurer for several years prior to that time.
Other official vote totals in the primary race for tribal chair were as follows: Wayne Dupuis, 104 (8.21 percent); Robert Abramowski, 98 (7.73 percent); Peter Durfee, 55 (4.34 percent); John Henry McMillen, 53 (4.18 percent); Ricky Defoe, 48 (3.79 percent); Russell Savage, 20 (1.58 percent); Alan Abramowski, 15 (1.18 percent); and Jeremiah Savage, 6 (.47 percent).
In Diver’s candidate statement prior to Tuesday’s Primary, she listed several of the accomplishments during her time in office, including the addition of 8,000 acres of land and 94 housing units to the reservation; completion of the Black Bear project; the new Resource Management building and Tagwii Treatment Facility; and success with the National Indian Gaming Commission and Federal District Court in the battle over the legality of agreements with the city of Duluth concerning the Fond-du-Luth Casino.
Defoe referenced his 20 years’ experience in tribal government and emphasized the fact that he was never accused of malfeasance or other illegal activities during his time in office. He stated that one area he plans to focus on if elected is to get qualified Fond du Lac members back in management positions, questioning why people from outside the state of Minnesota are managing some of the reservation’s businesses. He also voiced the desire for the reservation to once again become “a better partner to all band members and a better partner and leader in our local community [as well as] statewide and nationally.”
“There is no need to act in isolation from others,” Defoe concluded.
Advancing to the General Election in the race for District I (Cloquet) Representative will be incumbent Wally Dupuis who had 381 votes (47.21 percent) and challenger Kelly Diver with 111 (13.75 percent). Other results in the District I contest included: Thomas Whitebird, 71 (8.80 percent); Eugene Reynolds, 32 (3.97 percent); Clayton Bassett, 30 (3.72 percent); Carol Jurek, 25 (3.10 percent); Kenneth Defoe, Jr., 32 (3.97 percent); Donald Wiesen, 24 (3.22 percent); Jerrod Ojibway, 25 (3.1 percent); Lonny Susienka, 24 (2.97 percent); William Dufault, Sr., 19 (2.35 percent); and Melvin Defoe, 16 (1.98 percent).
Dupuis campaigned on the accomplishments of his four-year term in office, including the creation of short- and long-term employment and economic development opportunities, increased participation in activities and events, and working through the national recession without having to lay off any employees. Looking toward the future, Dupuis cited the anticipated completion of a veterans’ housing unit, an apartment building, a hiking trail and a water line expansion.
Challenger Kelly Diver stated he believes the voices of the people have been “silenced for too long” and called for the return of the referendum vote of the people. He listed some of the things he plans to work for if elected, which include youth and elder programs, infrastructure, education and land purchase.
Top vote-getters for District III (Brookston) Representative were Kevin Dupuis, Sr., 81 (31.89 percent) and Bryan Bosto, 57 (22.44 percent). Also in the running were: Clarence Smith, 39 (15.35 percent); Dawn LaPrairie, 32 (12.20 percent); Debra Johnson-Fuller, 7.48 percent); Mark Maciewski, 15 (5.91 percent); Frances White, 6 (2.36 percent); Ernest Diver, 3 (1.18 percent); and Sonya Skoglund, 3 (1.18 percent).
Bosto cited his passion for youth issues, stating that during his term in office he would work to “help create a safe and healthy community.” He said he would like to reopen the Dottie Smith Center in Brookston, since he believes the current center does not serve the entire district effectively. He added that he also intends to continue to work on the lacrosse camp and reform policies to “get our youth working all year.”
Kevin Dupuis did not issue a candidate statement and could not be reached for comment.
The top two candidates in each race now go on to the June 12 General Election. Winners are expected to be seated by or before July 17.
Karen Diver commented that this year’s election turnout was one of the highest she’s ever seen for a primary, with a high percentage of absentee balloting as well.