5 of 6 incumbents returned to ON Congress

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Tribal voters re-elected five of six incumbent candidates to the Osage Nation Congress on Monday.

Returned to their seats for the upcoming Fifth ON Congress were Archie Mason, Maria Whitehorn, R.J. Walker, Shannon Edwards and John Maker. The lone new congressional member will be Joe Tillman, a Pawhuska resident who received the second-most votes among the tightly-contested field of 15 candidates.

The only incumbent not retained was John Jech, who placed 11th in the overall voting. Jech, a local CPA, wound up with 584 votes — putting him within 81 votes of the election’s No. 7 finisher and 74 points ahead of the last-place candidate. Jech garnered more than 5 1/2 percent of all the votes cast.

Mason, a Tulsan who has served 10 years on the tribal Congress, received the top number of votes (941). That constituted a little less than 9 percent of the 10,458 selections. Tillman and the incumbent congressional Speaker, Maria Whitehorn of Hominy, were both named on 926 ballots (8.85 percent).

Another Pawhuskan, R.J. Walker, was named on 890 ballots, or 8.51%. Walker led the voting in 2012, when he won his first term as a Congressman. Shannon Edwards of Edmond, who is (like Mason) beginning her second decade on the Congress, received 776 votes (for 7.42%). Hominy resident John Maker earned election to his second four-year term by taking 721 votes (6.89%).

When the Fifth Osage Nation Congress convenes early next month, the six electees will represent one half of the membership in the unicameral tribal legislature.

The seventh- through 15th-place finishers in the ON congressional voting were as follows: Brandy Lemon 665 (6.36%), Rebekah Horsechief 650 (6.22%), Michael Bristow 633 (6.05%), Fi Davis 596 (5.70%), John Jech 584 (5.58%), Danette Daniels 552 (5.28%), Hank Hainzinger 547 (5.23%), Myron Red Eagle 541 (5.17%), Jacque Jones 510 (4.88%).

A constitutional amendment which also appeared on Monday’s tribal ballots passed with 84.47 percent approval. The amendment called for changing language in the ON Constitution’s Article IV, Section 3(G) in order to allow increased penalties to be assessed for tribal crimes. The phrase “greater than imprisonment for a term of one year, or a fine of $5,000, or both” will be changed to read “greater than allowed by federal law.”

Ostensibly, the amendment will realign the Osage Nation’s criminal penalties with those allowed under federal law. As federal law already permitted the tribe to increase criminal penalties of Indian defendants above what was allowed under the ON Constitution, the amendment will enable the Osages to enhance tribal punishment on crimes committed within the Nation’s jurisdiction. The amendment also was designed to allow for the Osage Nation’s adoption of the Tribal Law and Order Act, as well as the Violence Against Women Act. Proponents of the amendment contended that both of those acts are vital to the expansions of ON jurisdiction and sovereignty.