Resident raises concerns about Snoqualmie Tribe’s candidate forum | Column

Here is a consideration for local voters regarding the Oct. 17 Snoqualmie Valley Candidate Forum, hosted by the Snoqualmie Tribe.

Outside influences on elections are inevitable, be they a larger political party, political action committees (PACs) or companies. There are rules set by state and federal election committees on acceptable actions and the flow of money.

Influence and what it can and cannot look like is currently on our daily national news. There is no evidence that Russia altered any results in the 2016 presidential election, however it is clear that this independent nation attempted to insert itself and influence. On a large or small scale, I am one who publicly advocates that those who pay local taxes are the voices I want in any election or civic discourse.

The Snoqualmie Tribe as a sovereign nation, has specific governance and duties. Their promotion of public discourse and civic participation is to be applauded. However, our First Nations are governmental entities and while not a conflict of interest, hosting a candidates forum for another governmental organization might not be prudent. It is clear from the multiple venues of advertising I am seeing, that a great deal of money is going into the promotion of this event and that my caught my eye. Upon further exploration, I found a post on the Tribe’s Facebook page from Mayor Matt Larson. It was enough for me to take pause ….. (post has been shortened)

“I will not be participating in your forum. While I believe the gesture is well intended, it is also ill conceived for several reasons.

First and foremost, it is inappropriate for one local government entity to formally meddle in the elections of another local government. The city of Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Tribe are members of the Snoqualmie Valley Governments Association. The SVGA was formed as a means to foster greater cooperation, understanding, respect and partnerships between the various governmental agencies in the Snoqualmie Valley. The success of such associations depends on abiding respect for each jurisdiction’s inherent mission, independence and sovereignty. Imagine the city of North Bend inviting Snoqualmie candidates to a debate in their council chambers to discuss North Bend’s concerns. Or, worse yet, imagine how rightly insulted the tribe would be if the city of Snoqualmie was to host an open debate in Snoqualmie for your council elections….

Lastly and regretfully, I am not confident that the forum would be objectively moderated. Tribal representatives have twice met with the slate of Snoqualmie 1st candidates and have not afforded a similar opportunity for all candidates in this race.

Given the recent progress in our tribal-city relations, this forum causes me serious concern.”

Voter education is a noble undertaking, but in today’s political atmosphere I agree with the hesitation of many of the candidates, including the mayor.

Nancy Baker is an active member of the Snoqualmie Valley community.