Brian Thomas Palmer will be the new Seminole Nation of Oklahoma assistant chief, according to the official results certified by the tribe’s election board today.
The results from Saturday’s runoff election showed Palmer receiving 564 votes (59.9 percent) and Anthony “Buddy” Dewayne Wood receiving 378 votes (40.1 percent). With 942 total votes cast, turnout was about 55 percent of the July general election when Palmer and Wood finished first and second in a seven-candidate race.
“First, I would like to say thank you to Mr. Wood for his compassion for our people and wanting to serve as the assistant chief. Today, our people came together and voted on our Independence day. It displayed that our traditional way of governing is alive and well. I am proud and humbled to be the next assistant chief as I follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, Tom Chito Palmer,” Palmer wrote in a statement to NonDoc. “I look forward to uniting with our newly elected Chief Lewis Johnson and being instrumental in moving our nation forward by strengthening our sovereignty and building our nation along with the support of our General Council. For us to prosper, we must unite and be stewards of this nation. We must honor the sacrifices of our ancestors and care for our elders and children, our lands, and our traditional ways. We must remember that we are all st’cate people at the end of the day and working together is the only way we will persevere. Mvto.”
“The citizens have spoken, and I would like to congratulate Assistant Chief-elect Brian Palmer. I am extremely humbled and honored for the support that was given within this election process. I pray these next four years are years of progress for our nation. We have stood still for far too long and I will keep the chief and assistant chief-elect in [prayer] as well as our nation as important days are ahead. Again, MVTO for all the support throughout this process. At the end of the day the people have spoken and I am just happy that their voices were heard,” Wood posted. “As I have said [many] times, this is something I dreamed of doing with my late mother Nita Jacobs and my late brother Billy Wood by my side but I know they are proud. I strived to run a honest, respectful campaign and want to thank all those who contributed to that, first my family and friends, and everyone who helped along the way (you know who you are) and believed in what we were doing. I want urge the youth to get involved in the tribe, because you are ultimately the future of our nation. Always hold on to tradition and our native tongue because that is our identity as Seminole people! In closing, I want to again send my congratulations to Mr. Brian Palmer and will keep him in [prayer] as he tries to move our Nation forward. Mvto.”
Palmer will succeed Lewis Johnson as assistant chief. Johnson challenged and defeated incumbent Chief Greg Chilcoat in July.
Chief-elect Lewis Johnson, Assistant Chief-elect Brian Thomas Palmer and members of the General Council will be sworn in at 8 a.m, Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Mekusukey Mission grounds south of the town of Seminole.
Brian Thomas Palmer elected by nearly 20 percent margin
A master-certified service advisor at Seminole Ford, Brian Thomas Palmer has previously held the positions of band chief and assistant band chief for the Tusekia Harjo Band. Palmer served six years in the band chief seat before resigning in 2020 after his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
Palmer served one-term as the chairman of the Etolwv en Mekko, the organization which encompasses the band chiefs of the 12 Seminole Nation blood bands. He also worked as a compliance officer and operations manager for the Seminole Nation Division of Commerce.
Among other policy points, Palmer said before the election that he wants to invest into infrastructural needs of the Seminole Nation, most specifically water needs at the Mekusukey Mission grounds and Sasakwa community, as well as renewable energy sources.
“I think we need to invest in renewable energy, whether it’s wind, whether it’s solar (…) I think those are two long-term beneficial things that we need in order to grow at our Mekusukey Mission ground and just overall as a tribe,” Palmer told NonDoc.
Palmer also voiced support for direct payments to tribal citizens with the Seminole Nation’s $88 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan.
Additionally, Palmer said he wants to fund broadband infrastructure that would provide coverage across the Seminole Nation boundaries. He noted that the Seminole Nation’s broadband was not properly prepared for distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It made it really difficult to provide that service for kids to be able to do their schooling, because the majority of our areas are so rural,” Palmer said.
In regards to criminal jurisdiction in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, Palmer is most focused on increasing law enforcement capacity within the Seminole Nation. Palmer voiced concern surrounding the absence of a detention center, saying that the Seminole Nation is “having to contract to house any of our inmates or anybody like that, that’s been arrested.”
As far as casino gaming development, Palmer wants to invest and provide more services within the Seminole Nation’s current casinos before building others.
Palmer stressed the importance of governmental transparency within the Seminole Nation, with hopes of getting more citizens involved with their government. He expressed support for a news release that would keep citizens informed of the Seminole Nation’s governmental ongoings in a “conversational manner”.
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(Correction: This article was updated at 3:33 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, to correct reference to the employment of Brian Thomas Palmer. NonDoc regrets the error.)