St. Mary’s Band heading to the polls

The St. Mary’s Band has three councillor positions; election set for October 24.

The St. Mary’s Band is heading to the polls this October with three vacant positions available including current Chief Cheryl Casimer’s.

The band holds elections every two years with each position lasting for four. Vickie Thomas, chief operating officer for the St. Mary’s Band Administration, said the overlap allows at least two members to remain on the board to welcome in potential new members and provide their expertise.

“There’s no complete political turnover,” she said, adding that the staggered elections provides stability. “If we had a complete council turnover we wouldn’t know what we were working on.”

The councillors who will be vacating their positions are Marty Williams and Jim Whitehead, while Joe Pierre and Corey Walkley will remain.

The band is always busy, and with overlapping councillors they can continue working on important issues in the community without a significant learning curve.

Thomas said this year the election process will take on a slightly new format. Previously, newly-elected councillors would be voted in during October, and would spend November and December shadowing the former councillors in their final months. Now the new councillors will be sworn in November 1 and will have voting power as of that day.

“It gave them an opportunity to get familiarized,” Thomas said.

Now the new councillors will rely on the experience of Pierre and Walkley a little more as they start fresh on November 1.

“I think they would turn to their colleagues and learn from them,” Thomas said.

Casimer has announced she will run again, after completing her first four-year term as chief. Before assuming the position she was a councillor for 12 years. Thomas said Casimer will bring a wealth of experience to the process and there shouldn’t be any issues with the new starting date.

“With the experience it’s not going to be too much of a turnover,” she said.

The chief is elected in the same way the councillors are. The electorate will vote for the councillors and the person who receives the most votes becomes the chief.

“They all have to be prepared to step up to that,” Thomas said.

There are several key issues that will be discussed at the October 17 all-candidates forum which will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the St. Mary’s Band Hall. Those include building on the strategic plan that has been developed by the band in consultation with residents and establishing which initiatives should have priority.

“I believe all the candidates will have one area of expertise in the strategic plan that they would like to focus on,” Thomas said. “Whoever’s nominated the electors get the opportunity to ask the candidates questions.”

Another issue is achieving potable water throughout the band. Currently many residents rely on individual wells.

The nomination meeting for candidates will be held on October 10 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the St. Mary’s Band Hall.

All members of the St. Mary’s Band are eligible to vote automatically. Voting will take place October 24 at the St. Mary’s Administration boardroom from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Any voters who will not be available on that day can register for a mail-in ballot by emailing chief electoral officer Marion Eunson at meunson@ktunaxa.org.