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June 17, 2014

Chickasaw Nation candidates discuss issues at forum

CHICKASHA — Chickasaw Nation legislative candidates discussed their experience, as well as issues that affect Chickasaws, such as health and education, during a forum Friday.

The Purcell Chickasaw Community Council hosted the forum, which included legislative candidates from the Pickens and Pontotoc Districts, which make up most of Grady County.

The Chickasaw Nation has jurisdiction over territory in 13 counties in Oklahoma, according to chickasaw.net.

Pontotoc District Seat 3 incumbent legislator Katie Case has served in the legislature of the Chickasaw Nation for seven years.

Case said she's a former teacher from Ada.

"As a legislator, I feel like I'm a voice for the Chickasaw people…you're with them during the good times and the tough times," she said. "I've gotten to meet Chickasaws from all over and family members."

Case said she hopes more young Chickasaws will vote.

Case's opponent, Karen Goodnight, said she's served the tribe as headstart director, among other posts, and would focus on issues like education, health and wellness, and economic development if elected.

"We're losing too many Chickasaws to diabetes," Goodnight said. "We're the second-largest employer in Oklahoma, this encourages me to promote our businesses."

Pickens District Seat 2 candidate Michael Watson discussed the importance of preserving Chickasaw culture and employee rights and benefits.

"It is my opinion that we must be aware of our people's history. I was born on our family's historical estate," Watson said. "During my 10 years in Oklahoma, I helped organize the regional offices. We worked toward employee rights…to get 401k for Chickasaws and to get term limits."

Watson's two opponents weren't present for the forum.

Other offices up for a vote are Pontotoc District seat 4 legislator, Tishomingo District Seat 3 legislator and Supreme Court Seat 3.

Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters on July 14 and must be returned to the Election Commission by 10:30 a.m. on July 29.

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