Comanche Nation runoff
A Comanche Nation runoff election is set for Saturday, June 10, 2023. Stacked on left, candidates for Business Committee seat No. 4 are incumbent Robert Komahcheet Jr. (top) and Jordan Fox (bottom). Stacked in center, candidates for secretary/treasurer are incumbent John David Wahnee (top) and Michael Keahbone (bottom). Stacked on right, candidates for Business Committee seat No. 3 are incumbent Alice Kassanavoid (top) and Tanisha Burgess (bottom). (NonDoc)

(Update: To review results from the 2023 Comanche Nation runoff election, click here.)

It’s challengers versus incumbents in the Comanche Nation runoff election set for Saturday, June 10. As Election Day approaches, statements from candidates have included proposals for constitutional reform, more frequent General Council meetings, more citizen involvement at Business Committee meetings and a general call for “major changes.”

Comanche citizens will be voting for four positions: secretary/treasurer, tribal attorney and a pair of seats on the Business Committee, a seven-member governing body managed by a chairman, a vice-chairman, the secretary/treasurer and four committee members, all of whom serve three-year terms. Tribal attorneys — often private law firms — are elected annually.

With the exception of tribal attorney, reelected incumbents would be ineligible to run for office in the Comanche Nation again until 2029. The Comanche Nation Constitution prohibits more than two consecutive terms among Business Committee members.

Early voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 9, at the Comanche Nation Complex and the Comanche Nation Education Center in Lawton. On Election Day, polling sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The May 13 general election was the first since Comanche citizens voted to amend their Constitution and institute an official six-member Election Board in July 2022. Six people ran for the Election Board seats uncontested. The new Election Board members will serve two-year terms.

During the May general election, three-time Tribal Administrator Julia Mantzke won a fourth term. Although Comanche citizens currently vote for tribal administrator every year, tribal members expressed interest in extending the tribal administrator’s term to three years during the Comanche Nation’s recent Annual General Council Meeting.

Nearly 1,300 people voted in the general election. In the past five years, no Comanche election has seen more than 1,500 ballots cast. About 17,000 people are currently enrolled in the Comanche Nation, and around 7,000 members reside within the tribal jurisdictional area near Lawton and Fort Sill.

Election results are unofficial until certified by the Election Board. The runoff results are expected to be certified by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13.

The following summary of the Comanche Nation runoff races is drawn primarily from news reports, government documents, campaign websites and a May 30 candidate forum, which is embedded below.


John David Wahnee (incumbent)

John David Wahnee
John David Wahnee is a candidate for secretary/treasurer in the Comanche Nation 2023 runoff election.

Profession: Elected in 2020, Wahnee currently holds the secretary/treasurer seat on the Comanche Nation Business Committee.

Experience: Wahnee has 35 years’ experience working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was elected tribal administrator in January 2019, after a legal battle which delayed the 2018 runoff election. He ran unsuccessfully for a second term later that year. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and he took graduate courses in finance and administration at the University of Oklahoma.

Platform: On his Facebook page, Wahnee said he is campaigning on his results from his past three years as secretary/treasurer. He said he has delivered three years of clean audits and worked to decrease the Comanche Nation’s financial risk classification from high to low risk. He said that wasn’t achieved by the previous secretary/treasurer.

“I’m running for reelection for secretary/treasurer because I believe our nation is ready to make some major changes,” Wahnee said during the May 30 candidate forum. “Having served as your tribal administrator and having served as your secretary/treasurer, I have the knowledge, and I have the expertise to keep things moving in a very positive direction.”

Links: Facebook

Michael Keahbone

Michael Keahbone
Michael Keahbone is a candidate for secretary/treasurer in the Comanche Nation 2023 runoff election.

Profession: Keahbone is the lead pastor at First Baptist Church Lawton.

Experience: Keahbone holds a bachelor’s degree in management and ethics from Mid-America Christian University. He currently serves on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s finance team. He has never held elected office before.

Platform: During the candidate forum, Keahbone said he’d like to see the Comanche Nation become independent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Among other things, the Comanche Nation currently contracts with the federal government to provide various programs to its citizens.

“The issue for us moving forward is we have a shrinking BIA,” he said. “Right now, they’re already understaffed, but I believe at some point it’s not even going to exist. We need to be able to be ready and function without that.”

Links: Facebook

Business Committee seat No. 3

Alice Kassanavoid (incumbent)

Alice Kassanavoid
Alice Kassanavoid is a candidate for committeeperson No. 3 in the Comanche Nation 2023 runoff election.

Profession: Elected in 2020, Kassanavoid currently holds the committeperson No. 3 seat on the Comanche Nation Business Committee.

Experience: Kassanavoid holds a master of legal studies in Indigenous Peoples Law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. From 2018 to 2020, she served as chairwoman of the Comanche Nation Gaming Commission. She also served one term as chairwoman of the Comanche Nation Entertainment Board of Directors in 2017.

Platform: During the May 30 candidate forum, Kassanavoid said she would like to see policies in place to prohibit Business Committee members from getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the tribe. She said it’s been an issue with several committee members. She also said constitutional reform is needed in regards to annual General Council meetings.

“One meeting per year for our people, it’s just not enough,” she said. “If we were able to have a quarterly General Council, we’d be able to get more done. It would be better accountability on the Business Committee.”

Links: Facebook

Tanisha Burgess

Tanisha Burgess
Tanisha Burgess is a candidate for committeeperson No. 3 in the Comanche Nation 2023 runoff election.

Profession: Burgess’ Facebook page lists her as a powwow mom with the Professional Powwow Association.

Experience: Burgess has 10 years experience in the gaming industry and 15 years experience working with the tribe. She has worked with the Comanche Nation Gaming Commission to create policy. Her first job with the Commission was in vendor licensing. In the past year, she helped the Apache Gaming Commission bring their licensing department up to compliance. She has never held elected office before.

Platform: During the candidate forum, Burgess said she would like to implement an ethics policy. She also said the Business Committee’s monthly meetings need to be more open to the public.

“I, for one, feel that we should go back to allowing tribal members to come to these meetings, to attend these meetings and speak freely,” she said. “If they have a resolution they want to present, I think they should be able to do that.”

Links: Facebook

Business Committee seat No. 4

Robert Komahcheet Jr. (incumbent)

Robert Komahcheet Jr.
Robert Komahcheet Jr. is a candidate for committeeperson No. 4 in the Comanche Nation 2023 runoff election.

Profession: Elected in 2020, Komahcheet currently holds the committeperson No. 4 seat on the Comanche Nation Business Committee.

Experience: Komacheet has 35 years experience working with various tribes. He was a police officer for 20 years and was chief of police at the end of his tenure. He spent 10 years working with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and five years working as deputy director of security for Kickapoo Casinos.

Platform: During the candidate forum, Komahcheet said the Comanche Nation’s Constitution and election polices are both outdated and need to be revised. He said the Comanche Nation should have quarterly constitutional reform conventions.

“Everybody’s been talking about revising the Constitution for the last 15 to 20 years, but nothing has been done,” he said. “Some of the past administrations have manipulated the Constitution for their benefit, and we’ve all seen that.”

Links: Facebook

Jordan Fox

Jordan Fox
Jordan Fox is a candidate for committeeperson No. 4 in the Comanche Nation 2023 runoff election.

Profession: Fox is the owner and CEO of Red Fox Capital Investments LLC.

Experience: Fox has worked for the Comanche Nation for the past 17 years in various positions. He has served in the Youth Program and the Office of Property and Procurement. He later became the deputy tax administrator for the Comanche Nation before being promoted to operations manager of the Tax Commission. However, he has never held elected office.

Platform: During the candidate forum, Fox said he would like to work with the tribal administrator. He also said the Comanche Nation needs to rely less on casinos and create businesses that can generate residual income for the tribe.

“As more and more casinos are being built, we’re falling further and further behind,” he said. “I know we have a small budget for economic development, but that’s no excuse. We need to start small and work our way up.”

Links: Facebook

Tribal Attorney

Mike McBride, an attorney with Crowe & Dunlevy, and Amy Weisgram, an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney, participated in a Comanche Nation candidate forum Tuesday, May 30, 2023. The Comanche Nation elects its tribal attorney position annually. (Screenshot)

Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Dorsey & Whitney LLP has represented the Comanche Nation since December 2020. Established in 1912 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dorsey & Whitney is now an international law firm.

During the May 30 candidate forum, Amy Weisgram appeared on behalf of Dorsey & Whitney.

“When it comes to representing Comanche Nation, we bring every area of expertise necessary to represent the nation’s interest,” Weisgram said. “It is our hope that we are able to continue the good work for Comanche Nation.”

For the past 27 years, Dorsey & Whitney has been ranked in the top 25 in the United States by Thomson Reuters for merger and acquisition deals completed. The firm is also ranked in the top 30 by American Lawyer for pro bono work by national and international law firms.

Crowe & Dunlevy

From 2012 to 2016, Crowe & Dunlevy represented the Comanche Nation. The firm unsuccessfully ran for tribal attorney again in 2022. Founded in 1902 in Oklahoma Territory, Crowe & Dunlevy has been in practice for 121 years. Crowe has offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas and Houston and serves clients across the world.

During the the candidate forum, Mike McBride III represented Crowe & Dunlevy. McBride has held legal positions with various tribes in Oklahoma, including attorney general for the Seminole Nation, attorney general for the Sac and Fox Nation, and justice of the Pawnee Nation Supreme Court.

“We have a long track record of success representing native nations, and we would love to serve as your tribal attorney once again,” McBride said. “We are always very passionate and dedicated to representing tribal interests.”

For the past 13 years, Crowe & Dunlevy has been ranked on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms. The firm has also been named the 2023 Oklahoma Firm of the Year by Benchmark Litigation.

(Correction: This article was updated at 11:25 a.m. Friday, June 30, to correct reference to John David Wahnee’s educational background.)