Tribal Councilor Lay leaving office after 8 years
OCHELATA – Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay’s second term as a legislator was expected to end Aug. 14. During his eight years, he represented Washington County, southern Nowata County and the extreme northwest portion of Tulsa County.
Lay previously ran for and won the Dist. 4 council seat in 2011. After a redistricting of the council seats, he won the Dist. 12 in 2015. In 2019, he ran for principal chief seat, but finished second in the balloting.
During his time as councilor, he said he was proudest of the health care initiatives that allowed several clinic expansions throughout the Cherokee Nation.
“There’s one for Washington County, the one at Jay, the addition to Stilwell, and the new addition to Sallisaw, as well as bringing on line the clinic at Tahlequah,” Lay said. “Those are the biggies, as you can imagine, to me, and for all of us probably. The health care initiatives, I was a part of it. I didn’t do it all. Our employees sure jumped in, and without them we could have never pulled it off, so I’m very appreciative of the council and administration, but especially our employees for jumping in there and making it happen.”
One thing he and other councilors attempted to change was the tribe’s election code with regards to how absentee ballots are distributed, handled and returned to the Election Commission.
“I’m just saying that we had pushed, the council in totality, that we had pushed a little harder for some election reform. There’s too much money in our elections, and the absentee ballot harvesting has got to go. We’ve got to get that done, but it’s going to be up to someone else now. We made an attempt at it. Now that I look back it’s going to take a big overhaul instead of small increments,” he said.
During the 2019 election season, the EC disqualified Dist. 8 Tribal Council candidate Jodie Fishinghawk for forging signatures on voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests.
As far as running for a CN elected office in the future, Lay said he would “take a look at it and see” but for now will work with his grandson at his ranch.
He said he appreciates the people in his district for their support.
“I’ve had a lot of support in my district, and I appreciate that. We’ve done the clinic expansion, and I’ve got two brand new community buildings in District 12. I’m awfully proud of those accomplishments,” he said.
He said he is thankful to the Cherokee groups in his district that maintain upkeep on the community buildings in Nowata and Ochelata.
He also said he appreciates CN employees for all of their work for Cherokee people.
“Elected officials come and go, chief, council, what have you. Our employees stay in there day in and day out for a career and assisting our people. And I’m so appreciative to have worked with all of them. I really thank them for helping me be who I am as a councilor,” Lay said.