The two men who beat out Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall in Tuesday’s primary say change is what people want and change is what they’ll get Nov. 4.
Between them, Mark Fox, tribal tax director, and Damon Williams, tribal attorney, commanded half of all 2,476 votes cast, leaving Hall to trail in at fourth of six candidates.
Both say tribal members voted for a different kind of leadership with the “x’s” on their ballots.
Hall has been accused of financial self-dealings detailed in a lengthy investigative report just released, and he had a business relationship with a man who was indicted Tuesday in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme involving two oil field business associates.
That man, James Henrikson, who owned Blackstone trucking company and managed Hall’s private oil field company, was in federal court Wednesday afternoon on multiple charges of hiring the two murders, conspiring and soliciting three other uncompleted murders and dealing heroin.
Hall has never been implicated in any of that and says he’s cooperated with the Henrikson investigation.
Williams said Hall’s regime made people afraid to speak publicly, fearing for their jobs and homes.
Williams said he was behind the Hall financial investigation and said he doesn’t regret it, even though he and his family suffered as a result.
“Someone had to stand up,” he said.
Williams received 641 votes to Fox’s 729.
Fox said change is an overused word, but a real one, on the reservation.
You have free articles remaining.
“We’ve got to do something different here,” he said. “The core issue is that when you’re on the tribal council, you just can’t have a competing business.”
The two will have just six weeks to campaign and say they plan to work hard to get their message out to tribal members both on and off the reservation.
Fox, 52, said he plans to bring tribal members out of fiscal darkness involving revenues, particularly from oil and gas development. “We’ve got growing revenue if we do it right,” he said. He said it’s also time to help the reservation deal with the crime, traffic fatalities, environmental problems, and housing costs related to the oil boom.
Williams, 45, came in slightly behind Fox, but says with half the votes left on the table, he thinks his message will have an impact in November.
He said he wants to get the tribes out of survival mode and start saving for the future.
Both want to change a very centralized tribal government that puts all decision-making into the hands of seven council members.
Chairman Hall ended up with 362 votes in the primary. Other candidates were Randy Phelan, with 371, Ken Hall with 189 and former chairman Marcus Levings with 184.
The new chairman, Fox or Williams, will take over the office shortly after being formally elected.
Landslide victories in the Parshall and Twin Buttes segments mean the top vote-getters automatically get seats on the tribal council without going to the general election.
Mervin Packineau, incumbent, will continue to represent the Parshall segment after getting 240 votes Tuesday. Next closest of four other candidates was Carolyn Spotted Horse with 53 votes.
Cory Spotted Bear will take on the Twin Buttes council seat. He got 217 votes with next closest contender of two, Jeb Fredericks, taking 89 votes. Incumbent Barry Benson did not run.
The race for council representative in the Four Bears segment was not settled in the primary. Frank Grady, with 131 votes, and Vonnie Jo Alberts, with 76, will proceed to November. Incumbent Judy Brugh did not seek re-election.
Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or email@example.com.