Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Council Certifies Candidates Seeking Tribal Office

Verna Teller, Secretary of the Isleta Tribal Council, presented the list of persons that registered as candidates for the upcoming tribal election.

The following persons declared their candidacy:

Candidates for Governor

Herman Lente
Randy L. Jiron
Eddie Paul Torres, Sr. (Incumbent)
John Robert Lente
Ron Reid
Ken Reid

Candidates for Isleta Tribal Council

Christopher L. Abeita
Ulysses G. Abeita
Joe P. Anzara, Jr.
Timothy E. Salvador
Beatrice “Betty” Lente
Robert A. “Bobby” Lucero
ReGina J. Zuni
Joseph E. Jaramillo
Frank E. Lujan
Moses E. Lujan

Incumbents Seeking Re-Election to the Isleta Tribal Council

Juan Rey Ashke Abeita
Fernando Abeita
Larry B. Jaramillo
Michael Allen Lente
Ralph Douglas Jiron
Carl Phillip Jiron
Joseph R. “Cougar” Lucero
Barbara J. Sanchez
Verna Teller

President Michael Allen Lente asked whether anyone on the Council had questions or concerns with the list of candidates presented by Secretary Teller.

The Council raised questions about Robert A. “Bobby” Lucero residing on the reservation for 5 consecutive years as required by the Isleta Tribal Constitution.

The Council spoke with Mr. Lucero over the telephone during the meeting. Lucero explained that he retired from the military in 2011 and that he has been living on the reservation since that time.

Council member James Abeita stated that the 5 year residency requirement would not apply to Lucero because the Constitution provides an exemption due to his military service. Thereafter, no one on the Council raised any other questions about Mr. Lucero.

Council President Michael Allen Lente asked the Council whether they had any other concerns about the list of candidates.

Council member Phillip Jiron  raised questions about ReGina Zuni because she isn’t allowed to attend Council meetings or go to the Casino.

[Note: The previous Council took action to illegally remove former Council Member ReGina Zuni from office during her term in 2011-2012. The prior Council also barred Ms. Zuni from attending Council meetings. Pamela Gallegos, the Chief Executive Officer, of the Isleta Resort & Casino also banned Ms. Zuni from the Casino. Ms. Zuni requested hearings on these issues.  As of this date, the Council and the Casino have not provided Ms. Zuni with any explanation for her banishment.  Nor, did they afford her due process by conducting a hearing.]

President Lente stated that if Ms. Zuni got elected, she would have the right to attend meetings.

Council member Josephine Padilla stated that it was not necessary for the Council to address that issue because it was premature.

Thereafter, no one on the Council raised any other issues concerning Ms. Zuni’s candidacy.

Vice-President Larry Jaramillo then addressed me. He said, “This is directed to you Mr. Christopher Abeita. I’ve heard rumors that Herman Lente was going to appoint you as his Lieutenant. If that’s true, which position are you going to take?”

I explained that I wouldn’t be able to answer his question because there are too many “ifs.”

Jaramillo replied, “Well, I wanted to know how we [the Council] will address that issue.”

Secretary Teller responded that the Council would have to declare a vacancy and hold another election.

Vice President Jaramillo said, “Okay, I just wanted to clear that up.”

Once again, President Michael Lente asked whether anyone on the Council had any objections or concerns about the list of candidates.

None of the Council Members raised any other questions or concerns.

Council member Josephine Padilla made a motion to certify the list of candidates for tribal office as presented by Secretary Verna Teller for the upcoming election. Vice-President Larry Jaramillo seconded the motion. The motion carried with 7 voting in favor, 3 voting against and 2 abstaining.

The Council voted as follows:

Voting in Favor:

Michael Allen Lente, President
Larry Jaramillo, Vice-President
Verna Teller, Secretary
Juan Rey Ashke Abeita
Douglas Jiron
Josephine Padilla
Fernando Abeita

Voting Against:

Cynthia Jaramillo
Joseph “Cougar” Lucero
Phillip Jiron

Abstaining:

Barbara Sanchez
James Abeita

Secretary Teller asked, Why are you voting against the motion and why are you abstaining?

Council member James Abeita stated, that he abstained because he felt that the Motion should have specifically identified each person that the Council was certifying.

Council member Phillip Jiron stated that all of his questions concerning Robert Lucero and ReGina Zuni were not answered.

Council member Cynthia Jaramillo said, “I’m voting no based on principle, and I will leave it at that.”

Council members Barbara Sanchez and Joseph “Cougar” Lucero remained silent.

The Council authorized Secretary Teller to publicize the list of certified candidates as required by the Isleta Tribal Constitution. 

election-ahead-sign-375x250Based on the Council’s discussion, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) apparently approved and ratified the election results to the proposed amendments to the Isleta Tribal Constitution.  This means that the Tribe will now have a 7 member Council this upcoming term.

The approved amendments means that the top 14 candidates receiving the greatest number of nominations for the Council will be on the ballot in November.  Also, the top 2 candidates receiving the greatest number of nominations for the Governor will be on the ballot for November.

To download the Council’s Official Notice of Candidates, click: Official Notice

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