It’s the second time around and a new beginning for the chief councillor of the Hupacasath First Nation.
Steven Tatoosh defeated former tribe councillor Brenda Sayers 87-57 to win the top seat in the tribe’s election, which was held on April 5.
“It was close when the ballots were first being counted, neck and neck really so I was nervous,” Tatoosh said with a laugh. “But after 23 votes I pulled ahead. A few people gave me the head nod and I knew I had it.”
New councillors Jim Tatoosh and incumbent Warren Lauder won their seats by acclamation.
There were 144 votes cast out of 216 eligible voters, 40 of whom mailed their ballots in.
Tribe elections can be edgy affairs, Tatoosh said. There was a bit of baiting at an all candidates meeting last week but neither Tatoosh or Sayers were having any of it, he said.
“Brenda and I agreed to be civil with one another and we were,” Tatoosh said. “I know from working with her that whoever won the people would get a good job out of the both of us.”
The tribe will continue to participate in the Waterfront North Development Study with the city and Port Alberni Port Authority. Joint council discussions with the Tseshaht First Nation will also continue. And the tribe continues to strengthen its financial affairs, he said.
New priorities this term include establishing a budget for youth and elder programs and kick-starting tribal committee participation. Officials are also examining beautifying tribal waterfront land holdings, Tatoosh said.
Implementation of the elements received as compensation for TFL 44 logging activity impact will also continue, as will plans for developing more micro hydro projects.
Also in the works is a new community centre for elders and youth. “Our offices are a place of business and we want to develop something more community friendly,” Tatoosh said. “I’d like to leave that kind of legacy.”
Officials will also be evaluating the tribe’s involvement in the legal challenge to Canada’s investment treaty with China, which Sayers spearheaded in January. “I believe we need to finish what we started as long as it isn’t a financial burden to the tribe,” Tatoosh said.
The Hupacasath are also dealing with the resignation of chief executive officer Robert Duncan, who has left to pursue other opportunities. “We’re not going to replace him for now. We’re evaluating his workload and will distribute it to other staff,” Tatoosh said.
This is the second term as chief councillor for Tatoosh. He said the secret to being more comfortable with the role is tending to grassroots issues at home.
“I don’t need to go to Ottawa to vote for national chief and I don’t need to go to First Nations Summit meetings,” he said. “I did at first, but there’s nuts and bolts work to do at home.”