Meet the candidates: Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 8:17 PM CDT
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BELCOURT, N.D. – The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribe will elect a chairman in next month’s general election.

In this month’s primary, the candidates were narrowed down to the final two.

Incumbent Jamie Azure has served in tribal politics since 2016. He served on the council for one year before being voted in as chairman.

This is the first run for a tribal position for challenger Ross Zaste. He has served on the local school board since last year and said it has been a life goal of his to get involved in tribal politics.

Early voting begins Thursday at select polling locations throughout Rolette county and both candidates said they have been working hard to get their messages to tribal members, even after adjusting their campaign strategies during COVID-19.

The Turtle Mountain tribe looks to Chairman Jamie Azure for leadership, but he said it’s collaboration that’s led to the tribe’s recent progress.

“It’s not Jamie Azure Turtle Mountain tribal Chairman that’s moving everything forward, it’s the people of this tribe,” said Azure.

Azure is up for re-election at the end of a unique three year term. He said his campaign has focused on developments and progress within the community that have taken place since 2017.

“The campaign is actually a little bit easy because I can said look at what’s going on in our community, look at the things that we’re doing. We’re not relying on anybody anymore, we’re taking control of our future,” said Azure.

Azure’s challenger, local business owner Ross Zaste, beat out six other candidates for the final spot in the general election. Zaste said along with community development, he’s focusing on tribal operations.

“We need systematic change in our community, we need to be self-sufficient and we have to have accountability throughout our tribal system,” said Zaste.

Other issues include cultural revitalization, an open door policy for those in power, and better transparency for leaders.

“That transparency is key and I think that’s kind of what we’ve been lacking as a tribe and that’s been one of my focal points on m y campaign trail is that we need to be more transparent as a tribe,” said Zaste.

Now ideas from both candidates will be put to the test starting Oct. 22.

Both candidates said that due to COVID-19 they have had to do a majority of their campaigning online through Facebook and phone calls.

You can find out more about Chairman Azure here:

You can find out more about Ross Zaste Here:

Rolette County early polling locations are:

Dunseith City hall: Oct. 27, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Mountain Schools Event Center, Belcourt: Oct. 29 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

St. John Senior Center, St. John: Oct. 24 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

WWI Memorial Building, Rolette: Oct. 22 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Election day voting can be done at Rolla City Hall: Nov. 3 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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