The Petersburg Indian Association will hold an election for board members and chairperson Monday, Jan. 7.
The tribe members will have choices on this ballot to fill the needed seats.
Mike Sheldon and Tina Sakamoto are vying for the chair position on the board and Skip Hallingstad, Darnell Wilton, Melanie Frentz-Hallingstad, Jeanette Ness and Carol Martinez are going for the three board seats that are up for grabs.
Mike Sheldon is a lifelong resident of Petersburg and his family goes back in the area for generations.
“My idea as future chairman of the Petersburg Indian Association is to bring people together in a positive, respectful and caring manner with compassion toward the people,” Sheldon stated. “I want all tribal members here to be heard. So many of our young people feel they don't have opportunity and their issues are not being heard so allowing the tribal membership the ability to express their opinion is the key to our tribe growing in a direction of health, prosperity and financial freedom.”
Sheldon speaks of the struggles of the tribe over the last few years.
“I feel I could bring stability and focus to the tribal chairmanship,” Sheldon stated. “I believe the tribal membership are demanding that this council re-focus and work together on behalf of them, the people.”
According to Sheldon, the agenda should continue down the road to focus on economic development at a time when this tribal government can continue to create jobs and future opportunities.
“We can also continue to create relationships with the federal, state and local governments and whatever initiatives can help us to continue to build a strong infrastructure for ourselves and the generations to come,” Sheldon stated. “My objective is to the people, to give the tribal membership a voice where their opinions can be spoken in a respectful manner that they can freely state their opinions in a safe environment and their opinions will be respected.”
“You will not be disappointed in me as a voice of the people,” he stated.
Jeannette Ness is also a lifelong resident of Petersburg and works as an office administrator for the Petersburg Public Health Center
Ness has spent the last 30 years of her life as a member of the PIA board and has served as chairman as well.
“I really want to find truth in this position,” Ness stated. “I would like to dispel all false accusations and focus on bringing unity to the tribe and to the board.”
According to Ness, PIA is a great organization that should focus on continuing forward with finding grants, better networking opportunities and building programs that will benefit the tribe and the community.
“So much work has gone into building this organization I would hate to see it fold,” Ness stated. “That would put an end to all of the hard work that went into building PIA as well as all of the jobs and opportunities lost.”
Ness explained that her goal is to bring the tribe together.
“We need to listen to the tribal members and put the focus back on their needs,” Ness stated. “We have too much to look forward to, I would like to see positive change and the chance to move forward.”
Melanie Frentz-Hallingstad was born and raised in Petersburg and is a third generation PIA member.
“I have been involved with PIA in one fashion or another since I was 10,” Frentz-Hallingstad said. “I want to be involved with my tribe and bring good things forth for the future.”
She also explained that she would just like to see the integrity brought back to the organization.
“I really want everyone to get together and work as one,” Frentz-Hallingstad stated. “There are so many opportunities out there for our children that we are missing because of the constant bickering among ourselves.”
According to Frentz-Hallingstad, unity is what is needed and desired by the members of the tribe.
“This should be the goal of the council and members, to come together,” she stated. “We have so much to offer as an organization, we need to get back to the basics and make sure the people are being heard.”
Darnell Wilton is a lifelong resident of Petersburg as well and works in the office of the Petersburg Pilot.
Wilton wishes to see change with the future of PIA.
“I want to see that positive changes are made for the organization,” she stated. “Over the last couple of years there has been so much controversy surrounding PIA that the good is being overlooked.”
According to Wilton, PIA has more to offer its members and the community than dissension and controversy.
“I would like to see unity on the board and between the board and the tribal members,” Wilton stated. “We can help each other more by listening than arguing.”
Wilton also explained that the board exists to speak for the people of the tribe.
“I'm not sure if the voices of the tribe have been heard lately, but I would like to see that change,” she stated. “We should now be looking to the future and bringing our people together.”
By press time, Tina Sakamoto, Skip Hallingstad and Carol Martinez were unavailable for comment.