PRYOR – Looking back at her eight-year run as a Cherokee Nation tribal councilor, Janees Taylor says she remained focused on her Dist. 15 constituents while taking care of business in the tribal epicenter.
“The most important work I did was in my district rather than in Tahlequah,” she said. “While laws do have to be passed, it was always about the quality of life in Dist. 15 that mattered most to me.”
CN law restricts council members to two consecutive four-year terms. Taylor, of Pryor, will wrap up her second term in August, having been elected by Dist. 15 voters twice. In 2013, she won by 27 votes in a three-woman race, then in 2017 with more than 70% of the vote against a single challenger.
Taylor describes serving on the council as “one of the greatest joys of my life.”
“I got up each day hoping to make the lives of those in Dist. 15 better,” Taylor said. “This job has brought people into my path that I never would have known otherwise, and that truly is the greatest thing I will take away from my time in office.”
Dist. 15 includes the southern portions of Rogers and Mayes counties.
“In the years leading up to my decision to run for tribal council, I had become aware of all the services Cherokee Nation had to offer its citizens,” Taylor said. “I saw an opportunity to help connect people in my district to those services. Residents in Cherokee County are more aware of the help available to Cherokee citizens than those who live further away from Tahlequah. It was my hope to connect Cherokees who lived further out to those same benefits.”
Taylor said she viewed the position as “my opportunity to help as many people as possible in the eight years I had to serve.”
“This position is unique in that you are actually in a position to make difference in someone’s life,” she said. “Because Cherokee Nation has tribal funds, we can move much more quickly than a state government to help fill a need.”
Taylor said a highlight of her time in office was serving on various committees and boards, including the Commission for the Protection of Cherokee Nation Sovereignty, Claremore Indian Hospital board of directors, Rogers State University Foundation Board and Mayes County Post Adjudication Board.
“All of these opportunities would not have come my way if I had not been on the tribal council, and all of them were to the betterment of the citizens of my district,” she said. “For the last seven years, I have led the Cherokee Nation budget hearings. This is when the council does its most important work. Every year we look at the plans for serving the Cherokee people in the coming year. Every year I am proud of where our money goes – health care, education and caring for our elders. It makes me proud to be a part of this tribe.”
Taylor and her husband, Brent, have two adult daughters who live in Tulsa.
On June 5, CN voters elected a new Dist. 15 councilor, Danny Callison, of Pryor.