Two weeks ago, we asked Baker and Smith to submit a blog, 700 words or less, for our audience. We asked that the blogs be positive and about their candidacy, and pointed out that it would be a way to reach a few hundred Cherokees without having to kill and fry a single hog. Both candidates responded to our email, but only one actually submitted a blog, and his blog will run today.
Those of you who support Baker, we apologize that his campaign chose not to respond, but as we pointed out, no hard feelings. That being said, here is Smith’s guest blog:
I want to begin by saying Wado to Cherokee Truth for allowing me to post a blog on this page and I commend the site for its dedication to providing accurate information to Cherokee voters.
I’m proud to be principal chief of the great Cherokee Nation, because I love the work of building our Nation. I never underestimate our people, our employees or our future because I believe as Redbird Smith said, “We are intelligent, industrious; we are loyal and we are spiritual.” These are important traits to consider when we are on the verge of selecting leadership.
By just about every measure, the Cherokee Nation is better off today than it was 12 years ago. I will always believe that the very best service we can provide for our people is a job. We’ve created 5,000 jobs with great benefits that enable our people to take care of their families and contribute to their communities. And Cherokee Nation hiring policy requires that Cherokees be considered first for all jobs. Look around and ask yourself if more of your friends and family work for the Cherokee Nation and our businesses today than 12 years ago.
While we are proud of our successes in gaming, we know that to provide a secure future for generations of Cherokees, we must work to create a strong and diverse tribal economy. By operating on a sound fiscal policy that reinvests our gaming profits, we own businesses that provide environmental services, home health care, IT and hospitality services. Our strong credit rating enables us to receive capital improvement loans at interest rates that save our Nation thousands of dollars.
Our health care system’s budget in 1999 was just $18 million. Now, it’s more than $300 million. When some folks were doubtful about Cherokee Nation assuming operations of W.W. Hastings Hospital, I had faith that our employees could do a great job, and we’ve increased services and put $9 million into additional facilities there.
Our housing program went from putting 23 families in houses each year to putting more than 200 families in houses each year. I believe our housing employees do an amazing job and we receive thank you notes and compliments on their work daily.
Under my leadership and thanks to our staff, the CN has received national awards nine years in a row for its finance system and audits. I proposed the Nation’s first Freedom of Information Act, Open Records Act and Free Press Act. I strongly believe in the need for our government to be both transparent and accountable which is why our budget is posted online and Annual Reports are delivered each year to Cherokee citizens, both on our government budget and on the division of casino profits.
I’ve disagreed with our highest court, but always respected their decisions and their position as a third and equal branch of government. It is my sworn obligation and my constitutional duty to both follow the law and to defend adamantly the Cherokee people’s right to their own constitutional process.
I have increased our overall budget for services from less than $150 million to $600 million, in part because of our efforts in Washington, D.C. Education will continue to be one of my highest priorities. During the past ten years, the Nation has provided more than 23,000 students scholarships for higher education and assisted thousands more through vocational training grants.
I could go on talking about the great things our employees have done and how far we’ve come, but if you’ve been around here, you see it. Still, I know there is a much more we can accomplish and I am running for re-election to continue building and improving the Cherokee Nation. Recently, President Obama said, “We should live up to the expectations of our children.” As Cherokees, I believe we must look to the future in even broader terms. Our children and theirs and theirs. Your response to this call will ensure that the Cherokee Nation will continue to be stronger than ever, passing on our great legacy to those who come after.
Chief Chad Smith