Incumbent Thomasene Yahola-Osborn will take on challenger Edwin Marshall in the upcoming primary election for the Muscogee Nation’s Tukvpvtce District B seat.
Yahola-Osborn is the second generation of her family to take part in tribal politics. Her father was also a representative on the National Council. Marshall, meanwhile, previously served on the National Council in the 1990s and has spent his career working in tribal administration.
The primary election will be held Sept. 18, with absentee voting underway and early voting set for Sept. 15 and 16. Because there are only two candidates in the race, the winner of the primary will take the seat with no general election.
This year’s Council elections mark the first election cycle since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed existence of the Muscogee Reservation in July 2020, a decision with ramifications that tribal leaders are working to implement.
The Tukvpvtce District covers much of Hughes County including the towns of Wetumka and Holdenville. Each of the eight districts represented in the tribe’s National Council has an A and a B seat, which are up for grabs in alternating elections. Representatives serve four-year terms on the Council.
Below is a look at the two candidates running for Tukvpvtce District B seat. The following information was gathered from publicly available sources, and candidates are presented in alphabetical order, with recorded candidate interviews conducted by Mvskoke Media embedded when available as well.
Profession: Marshall has worked in various areas of tribal government and operations for 27 years, including as Election Board chairman, vice chairman of the 2009 Constitution Convention Commission, chief of staff and director of public relations for the Muscogee Nation. His Facebook page said he is currently “the Mvskoke Language Practitioner with the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.”
Experience: Marshall’s Facebook page says he was previously elected to the National Council in 1994. He ran for the Tukvpvtce District B seat in 2017 as well, coming in second place behind Yahola-Osborn in that primary. He received approximately 24 percent of votes cast in the general election.
Platform: Marshall said on Facebook that he was initially reluctant to run but decided to step into the race because of concern over polarization of the branches of the nation’s government and the challenges facing the tribe because of COVID-19 and the McGirt decision, which he says require coordinated action between all branches of government. He says he wants to be “the voice of stability and the people’s choice for change.”
Marshall writes on his facebook page that he grew up speaking Mvskoke and wants to work to preserve the language.
Thomasene Yahola-Osborn (Incumbent)
Profession: A resident of Wetumka, Yahola-Osborn worked for the Muscogee Nation for 17 years. Her father also served on the Council.
Experience: Yahola-Osborn won the Tukvpvtce District Seat B election in 2017 with almost 76 percent of the vote and is running for her second term.
Platform: In an interview with Mvskoke Media, Yahola-Osborn said one thing she would do if elected to a second term would be to work to update Council codes, which she said were last updated in 2010. Yahola-Osborn also said challenges to the McGirt ruling by the state of Oklahoma need to be met with a unified response from all branches of tribal government.
“I think we need to be flexing our muscle,” she said.
She wrote on her campaign Facebook page that helping address individual citizens’ issues is “where I thrive.”
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