Charles Locust has announced his candidacy for re-election to the office of assistant chief of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.
“When I began my tenure as the assistant chief, I wanted to use my experience and knowledge in the private sector and other tribal organizations to help my tribe,” said Locust. “I promised to provide a new and positive direction for the UKB through integrity, accountability and reliability.”
According to Locust, the UKB has completed 12 years of good audits since he came into office.
“With new goals and oversight, this administration was able to ensure financial accountability, while upgrading communications with federal agencies and our own members,” he said. “Between 2006 and 2012, we assisted students with more than $2.7 million in education scholarships and our elders with more than $2 million through our Elder Assistance Program.”
Locust said that such aid was made possible, in large part, due to the tribal government experience within the administration.
“Our leaders must be capable of communicating the needs of our people to congressmen and senators,” he said.
“At the same time, they must manage the tribe’s internal operations, while demonstrating to everyone our tribal government is strong, growing, stable and accountable.”
Locust currently represents the UKB at the National Congress of American Indians, as the Eastern Oklahoma Region representative alternate. He was also appointed commissioner to the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission by former Gov. Brad Henry.
“Now that the UKB has received self-governance and land in trust, we have the potential to grow tribal programs and private business,” said Locust.
“This allows this council and administration the chance to finally develop long-range plans. Now the UKB can proudly state that we are in control of our own destiny and have begun gaining ground on the government-to-government relationship every tribe desires.”
Over the course of the next four years, Locust plans to increase payments for the Elder Assistance Program; increase scholarships and school vouchers; establish an urgent care health facility; upgrade the casino and construct a new location; increase health programs, jobs, and education programs; and establish an assistance program for legal and probate services.