Results final in Fond du Lac special electionThe results are final at last – David Tiessen Jr. is the new District II (Sawyer) representative on the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The results are final at last – David Tiessen Jr. is the new District II (Sawyer) representative on the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee.
The post was vacated in September upon the death of incumbent Sandra Shabiash. Shabiash had served as the elected Sawyer District representative since December 2006.
A special election was set last fall to fill the position, with nine candidates filing for the Nov. 27 primary election. According to tribal election policy, if one of the candidates received more than half of the votes cast in the primary, that person would be declared the outright winner and fill the seat. If no candidate received more than half the votes, the two candidates who receive the most votes would then advance to a Jan. 29 general election.
As it turned out, the November primary failed to yield a winner with more than 50 percent of the votes, so the top two candidates went on to face off in a special election on Jan. 29. The top two candidates were Russell “Russ” Northrup and David Tiessen Jr., Northrup with 44 votes (26 percent) and Tiessen with 33 votes (19 percent) out of 179 votes cast.
Tiessen gained the advantage in the January election, however, garnering 96 votes at the polls, plus two absentee votes, for a total of 98 (57.31 percent) to Northrup’s 69 votes at the polls, plus four absentee votes, for a total of 73 (42.69 percent).
At the conclusion of the election, Northrup requested a recount. According to Gary Frazer, executive director of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Northrup’s request was denied because election officials had already done a manual recount on Jan. 30.
And then, on Tuesday, Northrup filed a contest to the election results. Frazer explained his contest was not accepted, however, because the official deadline had already passed to contest the election and the results were declared final.
Tiessen has worked at Black Bear Golf Course for 10 years. In his candidate statement prior to the election, he stated the reason he was running for the District II position was “to do something about the drug problem that has been plaguing our reservation and killing our people at a very dramatic rate.”
“There is no surefire way to do this, and it is not a one-man job,” he said. “I realize that it will take a community effort to push these poisons from our reservation, and I am prepared to work my hardest to make this community the best place for this generation and those to come.”
One of the concepts championed by Tiessen is the idea of a Cultural Center, which he stated is “imperative in helping people with their spiritual fulfillment and learning the ways of our ancestors – a place where people can learn to finish wild rice, make maple syrup, make their own regalia, conduct regular sweat lodges and learn the language.” He went on to say that he believes if the Fond du Lac people lose their language, they stand to lose their culture.
“I believe in this so strongly that I am willing to donate a portion of my salary towards language revitalization,” he committed, “…something along the lines of a progressive incentive program to keep people coming back and learning.”
Tiessen stated on Wednesday, “I am honored and proud to be serving in this position, and I plan to do the very best that I can.”
Tiessen will serve in the position of District II representative until 2014.