9 Tribal Councilors sworn into office
Tribal Councilors who were recently elected wait to take their oaths of office during their inauguration ceremony on Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play.” From left to right are Joe Byrd, Frankie Hargis, Victoria Vazquez, Janees Taylor, Harley Buzzard, E.O. Smith, Mike Shambaugh, Dr. Mike Dobbins and Mary Baker Shaw. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Supreme Court Justice John Garrett, left, gives the incumbent Tribal Councilors their oaths of office on Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Joe Byrd, center, and Frankie Hargis, right, take their oaths. Not shown are Tribal Councilors Victoria Vazquez, Janees Taylor and Harley Buzzard. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Incoming Tribal Councilors Mike Shambaugh, left, and Dr. Mike Dobbins, right, hold up their right hands and take their oaths of office on Aug. 14 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The two joined E.O. Smith and Mary Baker Shaw as new members of the Tribal Council. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Aug. 14, nine Tribal Councilors who won elections for their respective districts this summer were sworn into office during an inauguration ceremony at Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” gymnasium.
Incumbents Joe Byrd (Dist. 2), Frankie Hargis (Dist. 7), Harley Buzzard (Dist. 10), Victoria Vazquez (Dist. 11) and Janees Taylor (Dist. 15), as well as newcomers Dr. Mike Dobbins (Dist. 4), E.O. Smith (Dist. 5), Mike Shambaugh (Dist. 9) and Mary Baker Shaw (At-Large) will serve on the Tribal Council from 2017-21.
Supreme Court Justice John Garrett swore in the legislators. Councilors’ family members were invited to hold Bibles while the lawmakers took their oaths of office.
Dobbins said for his term he hopes to become “more informed” on certain issues and bring forth his knowledge on health and education.
“My plans are to become more informed on the multi-issues with the Cherokee people. I am pretty well-versed in health care and education, and I look forward to immediately start making some suggestions in that area,” he said. “Our health care system is a model for other systems to emulate, but that’s an area that I’ll have immediate effect on. But I do have a learning curve in other areas.”
Taylor said for her second term she would continue to focus on health care, education and the shift within the White House and how it could affect tribal programs.
“So we are going to have to watch the changes in Washington, D.C., from the funds that come down so that we can be sure to continue to serve our citizens with the programs that they depend on,” she said. “Even if there may be a change in funding or a change in the way we can administer the funds or the amount of funds, I don’t want that to get ahead of us where all of a sudden we don’t have the funding that we expected from Washington, D.C., and so we have to cut back on a program.”
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he appreciates the Tribal Council, and while he would miss Tribal Councilors Don Garvin (Dist. 4), David Thornton (Dist. 5), Curtis Snell (Dist. 9) and Jack Baker (At-Large) who termed out of office on Aug. 14, he was looking forward to the ideas and energy the new legislative body would provide.
“I look forward to the new council, the new ideas, the new energy to make this Nation even greater than it is today,” he said. “They won’t play as much golf. They will not make it to as many events. They will miss some ball games. They will be late for supper because it’s a mission folks. Being on Tribal Council is a labor of love that sometimes family gets put on the backburner, but it is for the greater good.”
The Tribal Council consists of a 17 members who represent the 15 districts inside the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction and two at-large seats representing citizens who live outside the boundaries. Members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms.