TAHLEQUAH - The Election Board for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians has finalized its list of 16 candidates for November’s Tribal Council Election. Upon receiving the finalized list, the Giduwa Cherokee News attempted to reach out to each candidate to participate in a Q&A session.
GOINGSNAKE DISTRICT CANDIDATES
Name: Sharon Benoit
Years on council (if any): None
Name: William (Willie) Christie Age: 52 Community: Goingsnake district Years on council (if any): 8 years
GCN: Why did you decide to run for Tribal Council in 2018?
SB: I want to see changes in the Keetoowahs. I’m full blood Cherokee and I’m proud to be Keetoowah. I dream big and what I would really like to see is more programs for education for kids. Right now, we have a large number that don’t know how to read or their math scores are not up to par. I really feel like education is a way out of poverty. I feel like we really need to motivate our young people to start moving into important positions and training them. I just want to see something positive. I’m a hard worker. I’m a fast learner and if I don’t know how to do something, I’m a self-learner. I’ll look it up.
WC: This is my 4th term tribal council. I wanted to run because I want to continue helping UKB members. I am here to help in anyway I can and however I can. Not only in my district but in all the districts. I don’t want to limit myself in just my district.
GCN: What do you believe are some of the most pressing issues our tribe faces and what will you do to address those issues?
SB: One of the biggest problems is poverty. We have such a need for things. If we can dream big, we have all the same opportunities that CNO does. We should live in fine houses. The Keetoowahs should have good housing, good healthcare. We shouldn’t have to depend on CNO for our healthcare. We can’t stay in the same situation for another 10 years. We won’t survive.
WC: Lack of funds. Because of that, we can’t help our people like we should.
GCN: What do you believe are the most pressing issues facing your potential district?
SB: One of the biggest needs that we have is for housing. We have three or four generations living in one house. We have always had that housing need, but it’s getting worse with every passing generation. As far as everything else, I’ll figure it out by talking with the people.
WC: Housing and daycare. People’s houses need to be fixed up. Life necessities-type things.
GCN: Have you set specific goals and a timeline to accomplish them if you were to win the council seat? What would be your first order of business?
SB: The imminent thing I would really like to see is organization, where A knows what B is doing, B knows what C is doing and if B hands C a job, they know they’re going to get it done. We need to get organized. I know we’re a tribe, but we’re also a business. It can’t be run shoddy. I think that’s what’s happening now. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
WC: Pushing to get daycare open and pushing for living conditions for our people. There’s no such thing as a timeline. It just comes and it goes. All I can do is push it and hope for the best. There’s a lot of stuff in between if somebody needed something and you have to get approval from whichever program. Then they have to process it and so on and so on. The timeline is unpredictable.
GCN: How do you plan to stay connected with the constituents in your district (meetings, social media, home visits, etc.)?
SB: I would like to have meetings in each area and organize them to where people know that they can expect it on a day each month. To get people more involved. You have to motivate people to do something because if you don’t, they could care less whether you’re having a meeting over there or not. You could have two people show up.
WC: Meeting once a month, home visits are when I am out and about, and calling on the phone. One of the best ways to get ahold of me is through calling my phone. I have a home number as well. I don’t have good service where I live, but if I get re-elected, I will give that number out. I use social media when I have district meetings to get the word out.