15-year tribal leader Anglen says farewell
TAHLEQUAH — Buel Anglen, who served a total of 15 years on the Tribal Council, said his final years in office in particular were rewarding.
“I’ve really enjoyed the last four years that I’ve served,” the outgoing Dist. 13 councilor said. “It just seems like we’ve got a lot of stuff accomplished. We did it with a lot of agreement and a lot of disagreement. But at the end of the day … you come together and you work as a group. That’s the thing I like about it.”
Anglen, 69, has represented portions of Rogers and Tulsa counties since 2002 when he was appointed to fill a council vacancy.
“I’m glad I got to serve the people,” he said. “I’m glad I got to serve the district that I live in, because they are the people that sent me down here. I never had an agenda. I just always tried to do what was right for the people who voted me in.”
Anglen said that during the years he’s had a hand in community efforts beyond his district.
“The Cherokee Nation has no boundaries,” he said. “We have to take care of all Cherokees no matter where they’re at. That’s kind of my philosophy.”
On the way out, Anglen acknowledged the tribe’s employees.
“They’re great people,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of them during the past. I’ve been around the tribe since 1992.”
Anglen had hoped to run for office again, but was removed from this year’s race based on term limits. His only election opponent and eventual winner, Joe Deere, filed the eligibility challenge, which the CN Supreme Court later backed.
Following Anglen’s appointment to what was then Dist. 8 in 2002, he was elected to the seat a year later. In 2007, when term limits took effect, Anglen was elected again. However, the typical four-year term was extended to six years to stagger terms of half the council.
After losing his seat due to redistricting in 2013, Anglen sat out two years, then ran for and secured the new Dist. 13 seat in 2015.
Deere and his attorney successfully argued that Anglen should be required to sit out four years before he’s eligible to run again. CN law restricts councilors to two consecutive four-year terms. The Constitution states that, “All Council members having served two consecutive terms must sit out one term before seeking any seat on the Council.”
“I would not have run this time if I’d known I was termed out,” Anglen said.
The Supreme Court’s opinion stated that staggered terms and redistricting created “a unique fact scenario that would be difficult to repeat” in Anglen’s case.
“Anglen has been elected to the Tribal Council in every single election held in his district since 2003, although the shape and number of that district have changed, at times drastically, during the previous 15 years,” the Supreme Court opinion stated. “In this case, it was not the tribal member that moved, but the district that moved around him while he stayed in the same location. However, the language adopted by the convention limiting consecutive terms in office demands the same result.”
Despite the setback, Anglen isn’t ruling out another run in four years.
“It is a sad day to leave, but I’ve had so many messages asking me to please remember four years down the road,” he said. “It’s in the back of my mind. I have served on the Tribal Council for 15 years. I know we have term limits, but that started later on. This is my second go-around of being out of office. But, I’m almost 70 years old now, so I can’t really make that promise. Only if my health holds up, I may come back.”