The fine folks at Rogers State also had a deputy Chief debate on Monday night, and we’ve got a recap. The sound was a little hard to hear sometimes, but we’ll interpret as well as possible. Feel free to watch it yourself.
If you do watch, the first thing you’ll notice is the shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee posture the candidates are in. It’s a good thing the candidates seem to respect, if not actually like each other, because they were in pretty close quarters.
After brief introductions, they jumped straight into the questions.
First question was about qualifications and motivations for running.
Chris Soap went first, saying he answered the call of duty, because a lot of people asked him to run. He said he’s been very involved in the Cherokee Nation his whole life and that he would be honored to serve as Deputy Chief.
Callie Hathcoat was next, and she said she’s worked a lot of years with the Cherokee Nation in her career and she would bring ‘a lot of passion’ to the job.
Raymond Vann said he felt like it was his chance to help more people get better services from the Cherokee Nation.
S. Joe Crittenden said he’s been doing something for the Cherokee Nation ‘since 1968 in some form or fashion’ and he’s seen the good times and the last four years the Cherokee Nation has had blinders on.
The next question was about representing the Cherokee people and not any special interests.
Hathcoat answered first and said she didn’t have any special interests, which appears to be true, because even on her facebook profile she only lists one.
Raymond Vann said he’d treat everyone the same; Crittenden said we’re all entitled to the same type of service and Soap said that even on the Council he feels like he tries to represent the interests of all Cherokees, not just the ones in his district.
The next question apparently was posed by someone with an old version of the Cherokee Nation Constitution: They asked if the candidates would be prepared to ‘preside over the tribal council,’ which stopped being a duty of the Deputy Chief in 2006.
Vann answered first saying he thought all branches of the government should work together.
Crittenden then explained that the question was off base because ‘the Deputy Chief has not presided over the tribal council for some time’ and that we have a Speaker of the Council now.
Soap agreed with Crittenden and said that his experience on the council would help him work together with the council because he understands their viewpoint.
Hathcoat said she hopes that she will try to represent the Chief’s viewpoint if she has to represent him to the council.
The fourth question was about language preservation, and Crittenden had first shot. He said he’d like to use CN community buildings and expand language programs more into the communities.
Soap said the communities have done a great job working with the Nation on this, and he’d like to see more partnerships with public schools. Hathcoat said she would build on what we already have in place and that the ‘earlier we reach them the better’ with language classes. Vann echoed Crittenden’s comments about using community buildings more, but that might actually have been Vann’s line from the first debate, so let’s give them both equal credit for it.
The final question was on term limits, and just like the last debate, all the candidates agreed that there should be term limits. No new ground here, really.
The candidates finally got to their closing statements. Soap went first, and spent some of his time thanking supporters, RSU and the people who have put in time to work on all the campaigns. He said he wanted ‘to invest in the future’ and promised to ‘represent you well.’
Hathcoat had her best moment of the evening, using a Margaret Thatcher quote that we don’t have exactly right, but basically said real leaders are out with the people making change and listening, and that’s the kind of leader she would be.
Vann wrapped up taking about treating people right because ‘we’re all Cherokees.’
Crittenden said he was ‘the most qualified’ candidate, having spent eight years on the Council and before that serving on the Housing Authority board after being appointed by Byrd ‘during the good times,’ which isn’t how most people remember the Constitutional crisis. He reiterated his campaign promises as well.
And they were done. And so are we.