The Puyallup Tribe of Indians held its primary elections on April 22 for two open seats on the Puyallup Tribal Council. From a field of 14 candidates, four emerged to move on to the general election on June 10. With 923 tribal members casting their votes, this was a record turnout for a Puyallup Tribal Council primary.
Among the candidates that will move on to the general elections are two incumbents: Tim Reynon (who received 326 votes) and Marguerite “Maggie” Edwards (233 votes). Facing off with them will be newcomers James “Jim Jim” Rideout (305 votes) and Monica Miller (214 votes).
Having served 18 years on the Puyallup Tribal Council, Edwards brings her seasoned experience and viewpoints to the mix of candidates. She also brings her years as a tribal court judge and code writer. Edwards feels that her long-term commitment to her Tribe will bode well for her in the general election, as it did in the primaries.
“I am truly grateful to the tribal membership for allowing me the honor of serving them over the years. Win or lose, there is nothing better than being a Puyallup Indian,” she said.
“I have a dozen years of tribal judging experience, which transfers into a solid understanding of the myriad of legal issues we as a tribe face every day in a modern world,” she said. “I feel properly tempered and sure of the rights and entitlements we inherently possess and am very comfortable and certain in defending them.”
When asked what makes her stand out among the other candidates, Edwards replied, “I am comfortable in my own skin. I understand the laws that are applicable to our tribe, and I am always ready to push the boundaries when we are challenged or face obstacles. I also feel ready to mentor and prepare young members to step up to leadership, as those of us on the council age.”
Increasing the number of tribal membership meetings is high on Edwards’ list of priorities so that tribal members have the opportunity to meet quarterly with their Tribal Council to stay abreast of the issues and projects the Tribe is involved in.
“The big issues, they need to be put out to the tribal membership to decide,” she said. “I really want to make that happen. And, of course, it is always my priority to protect and assure that the monthly per capita, bonuses, services and benefits to the membership are protected and growing.”
Elected to the Puyallup Tribal Council in 2014, incumbent Tim Reynon received the most votes in the primary. When asked what distinguishes him from the other candidates, Reynon replied, “My diverse background of education and experience and my positive leadership style. My educational background of a Bachelors in Social Work and Political Science, as well as my law degree (Juris Doctorate) have provided me with a solid foundation to be able to handle just about any issue or situation that comes our way.”
Reynon began his professional career working as a law clerk and then an attorney in the Tribe’s Law Office. After that, he gained executive management experience while managing the Tribe’s Human Resources, Training & Education Division for more than 13 years. During that time he also served three years on the Board of Directors at the multi-billion-dollar credit union, BECU. In 2013, he started his own consulting business with his sister where they helped tribes evaluate and organize their child welfare programs and provided other community and child welfare related services.
Under the slogan “Building A Brighter Future, TOGETHER!,” Reynon’s campaign platform is based on fully involving the membership in shaping the Tribe’s future. He aims to protect tribal resources for future generations and to ensure that all tribal families, children and members live in a safe, healthy and stable environment, among other issues he has outlined.
“I want to express my sincere and humble appreciation for all those that came out and cast a vote for our vision for our Tribe. There have been so many people that have supported our efforts and provided guidance and direction and I am so grateful for each and every one of them,” he said. “I want to thank my family for their unyielding support and encouragement. Without them, this result wouldn’t have been possible, and so I express my love and appreciation to them and raise my hands in gratitude and respect to all those that have contributed to this good start.”
This will be Rideout’s third time to run for Tribal Council. He has long been a familiar and public face among the tribal membership, and this became even more so upon the death of his niece Jackie Salyers in 2016 at the hands of two Tacoma police officers. He said this tragedy compelled him to even more activism and community leadership.
“The trauma became a re-direct and you can’t change things unless you get to the table. And seeing how politics play a part of everything in our Tribe, you have to get involved in order to create change.”
A staunch advocate for natural resources with many years experience as a geoduck diver, Rideout has been involved in successful business ventures for the Tribe including establishing tribal-only seafood retail markets in China. Locally, establishing a tribal marina on the waterfront is one of his priorities. “We have a marina that’s going to play a big part in our tribal needs and we have to modify it for today’s needs,” he said, speaking specifically of Ole and Charlies’ Marina for which he has been soliciting remodeling ideas from the tribal community. Other areas of interest to Rideout include making changes to the tribal constitution in order to move into the future and continuing to diversify the Tribe’s economic base.
A father, coach and youth mentor, Rideout sees himself as a role model for the next generation of tribal members. “I enjoy and appreciate our Tribe and I’ve been blessed by the children, the friendships and the relationships we have. Looking back, I didn’t chase the dollars; I chased the children and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I see where we began and where we’re at today, and I feel I can contribute a lot more being at the table.”
He thanked the tribal membership for seeing him through the primary elections. “The things that people have contributed to me at this time are overwhelming and I’m utterly grateful. Knowing the sense of responsibility that comes with this position, I don’t want to let anybody down. I really want to thank the youth for creating such a big turnout and believing in me like I believe in them, and the adults. I just want an opportunity to show what I have to offer our Tribe.”
Candidate Monica Miller may be brand new to running for Tribal Council but she is far from new to being involved in her Tribe. She has been working for her Tribe since 1977 and now, 40 years later, she continues to do so as Director of Per Capita/Representative Payee Department for the past two decades.
“I’ve watched this Tribe grow from 500-something members up to 5,200,” she said.
As to why Miller decided to throw her hat in the election ring, she said that her fellow tribal members have been encouraging her to run for some time now and this year is the year to do it. Issues of importance to her range from establishing a tribal credit union, treatment center, tribal church and daycare center with no waiting list for tribal members’ children, to ensuring that property land purchases/new businesses/remodels are voted on by the membership and homeless tribal members are sheltered and have a food bank to visit.
“Basically I’ve seen that we need a change and I want to give people the opportunity to vote for a different candidate who hasn’t been there for years,” she said. “It’s time for a change.”
Miller said she is proud of her strong work ethic to help make the Tribe the best it can be. While her position in the Per Capita department is one of the most important, if not stressful, departments in the Tribe’s administration, she enjoys the responsibility and helps whenever and wherever she can.
“I’m there for our people, and I listen before I respond – before I give you my final answer I want to think about it,” she said, noting that she and her siblings were raised to always be there for their tribal community – “to always leave your door open and always help out,” as Miller stated it.
Miller expressed much gratitude for making it through the primary election. “I want to thank all the members from the bottom of my heart for participating in this primary election. I hope that we even have more for the general election. It’s so important to voice your opinion and you do that by voting. This is the best election ever and it’s going to get better. Together, with our amazing tribal members, we can make a difference.”