Saturday, 23 January 2021

Howard: Why I support EJ Crandell for supervisor

As a longtime friend of Bernadine Tripp, I’ve been aware of the struggles at Robinson Rancheria. As a community, we had to endure the actions of a leadership intent on serving a few at the expense of many.

I watched as the leader at the time split the tribe by casting out members and tearing families apart in the process.

And I watched as a new thinker, a unifying force, sought to stop the actions of that leader by running against her in an election.

He prevailed only to have the election invalidated – by means I don’t fully understand. That was surely a blow to this young man. But he refused to quit and was ultimately elected as the new chairman of the tribe.

He was young, in his 30s at the time, and walking into a tremendous responsibility. I wondered how he would do – there was so much that needed doing.

Before long his true character would reveal itself – and for that he achieved well-earned recognition and praise. At a time when other tribes were embroiled in division through disenrollments, the young leader at Robinson did the opposite. He led the council in taking a unifying and bold step to reunite the 70 or so dis-enrolled members with their families.

What happens to Native Americans affects us all. When leadership fails us, the entire community is cheated of prosperity – the customers at the casino, the bounty that would have been shared with the county, the negative press that never helps our communities, and, of course the tribal members who relied on their leadership to stay solvent.

Watching this young leader as he facilitated a skillful reversal of the prior bad acts has been heartwarming. He took a multimillion dollar operation from near bankruptcy back to prosperity, reunited a fractured tribe and showed real courage and connection with the people when he and his council took a pay cut to show their level of commitment to a better path.

This type of leadership I can get behind. EJ Crandell has my vote on June 5.

Donna Howard lives in Lucerne, Calif.

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