Puyallups Recall Tribal Chairman
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ The chairman of the Puyallup Tribe narrowly lost a recall election but says he will run again for the now-empty seat.
Tribal Chairman Frank Wright Jr. lost the election Saturday by 118-102. He declined any other comment on the vote.
But the leader of the recall effort, Judy Wright, a distant relative, said his support of a proposed $140 million land claim settlement was his downfall.
Wright tried to get the tribe to vote again on the settlement offer after it was soundly rejected Feb. 8.
The proposal was reached after more than 18 months of talks between the tribe and representatives of Tacoma, Fife, Puyallup, the Port of Tacoma, Pierce County, the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern railroads and dozens of other landowners.
Under the settlement, the tribe would give up claim to thousands of acres of the Tacoma Tideflats industrial area, downtown and northeast Tacoma and the Puyallup Valley.
In return, tribal members would have received dozens of acres of industrial land, job guarantees, training opportunities, $18 million in a tribal trust fund and $60 million in loan guarantees.
Many tribal members voted against the proposal because they believed they were not getting enough in return for the land claims they were giving up.
Ms. Wright said it was absurd for Wright to try again for the vacant seat.
″In order to do the recall, we needed 250 signatures, and we came out with 254, so I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a large group of us that don’t want him sitting on the council,″ Ms. Wright said.
However, the closeness of the vote means that Wright’s attempt to regain the seat may not be fruitless, said Tacoma Mayor Doug Sutherland.
″It was a challenge against his (Wright’s) leadership,″ Sutherland added. ″But it’s not hopeless for him, not when you see a vote for recall that close.″
However, the change in tribal leadership will delay the settlement of the land claims issue, Sutherland said.
″We’re kind of on hold until they figure out the membership of the council,″ he said. ″I think that these leadership challenges are going to have to come to an end soon. If not, then the non-Indian side will have to decide what it’s going to do.″