Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Public Works Building

Below, you will find highlights of the issues the Isleta Tribal Council discussed during their meeting on February 28, 2013. All Council members were present for this meeting. Council member Ralph Douglas Jiron arrived about 20 minutes late. Governor Eddie Paul Torres and Lieutenant Antonio Chewiwi were absent. Lieutenant Isidor Abeita was present.

Education Board

The Isleta Tribal Council briefly discussed the Education Board.  Council members are concerned that the members of the Board are not conducting regular meetings. The Council will call in the Director of the Education Department to find out what is happening.

Purchase of Land

The Pueblo purchased 23 acres of land for $ 801,000. This occurred under the prior administration for 2011-2012. The land lies north of the Pueblo and is adjacent to the Pueblo’s reservation. The tribal attorney, Pablo Padilla, informed the Council that the Isleta Business Corporation (IBC) is interested in assuming responsibility for this land. According to Padilla, the IBC wants to use the land to attract business development. According to the IBC’s website, the Council created the IBC to “function as a separate business entity from the Pueblo.”  The IBC is managed by a five (5) member Board of Directors and a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) that reports directly to the IBC Board.

The Board of Directors includes:

  1. Harold Culbertson, Chairman;
  2. James Fitting, Vice Chairman;
  3. Nathan Lucero;
  4. Fayla Kovacs; &
  5. Michael Paquin.

The CEO is Chip R. Martin.

Council member Josephine Padilla requested that the Council bring in the IBC to get a report of their activities.

Election Ordinance

The tribal attorney, Pablo Padilla, also briefly discussed a proposed Election Ordinance. The purpose of this ordinance is to create a board that will hear election disputes. Currently, the Isleta Tribal Constitution empowers the Secretary of the Council to oversee the election process.  The Constitution also requires the incumbent Council to resolve election disputes. This creates conflicts of interests and appearances of impropriety because Secretary of the Council and members of the incumbent Council are usually running for office.  So, one purpose of ordinance is to delegate responsibility to a board that will resolve election disputes. The ordinance will also address problems concerning voter fraud.  The current Council will review the draft ordinance and discuss it at a future meeting.

Council Meeting Minutes

The Isleta Tribal Council voted to approve the Council meeting minutes for January 15, 22, 23 and for February 7 and 14.  If you wish to obtain a copy of the Council meeting minutes, you must file a request form and submit it to the Council for review and approval. To contact the Isleta Tribal Council, you may call (505) 869-9746.

Public Works Building

The Tribal Treasurer, Andrew “Tino” Teller, and Shawna Ballay, Acting Tribal Director of Planning provided an update to the Council concerning the costs to build a Public Works building.  At this time, the Pueblo estimates that the costs for this building will be five (5) million dollars. This building will house various tribal departments such Natural Resources and Public Works, which includes the Roads Department, Trash Pick-Up Department, Septic Tanks and the Water Department. The building might also house the Realty Department.


By Christopher Abeita

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