Veteran tribal chairman ousted in election
RENO (AP) – For the first time in 16 years, the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California will have new leadership.
Tribal Chairman Brian Wallace, who helped secure a climbing ban at Cave Rock and 24 acres of ancestral homeland on Lake Tahoe’s east shore, has failed in a bid for re-election to a fifth four-year term.
Waldo Walker of Dresslerville won a nine-way election on Saturday by garnering 156 votes to Wallace’s 115 votes. The other candidates trailed.
Walker, 37, has no previous tribal government experience. He’s a console assembler at GE Energy. The ex-Marine also is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.
“We’re really looking forward to an exciting next four years,” Walker said. “Brian did do some good things and he’s a good man.
“But you’ll definitely see a more open communication line that seemed broken to a lot of members. You’ll also see policy changes that members want regarding basic services,” Walker said.
Candidates have five days to contest the election, but Wallace said he would not file a challenge.
“It’s Washoe political self-determination in action and it’s good,” Wallace said. “Personally, I’m satisfied with the outcome and feel very relieved.
“Its a very hard business – to try to honor the land and protect the people. The creators have different direction plans for me so that’s where I’m going,” he said.
Walker supporters said the results show a desire for change by the 1,600-plus-member tribe. Its ancestral homeland includes Lake Tahoe and valleys along the eastern Sierra near Carson City.
“As a member of the tribe, I’m really thrilled he (Wallace) is out,” said Joyce McCauley of Wadsworth, an off-reservation member. “He wasn’t open. Basically, he was a career politician who didn’t care about the people anymore.”
Wallace, who was elected to the council in 1980 and as chairman in 1990, visited the White House under various administrations on tribal business.
Among other things, he was instrumental in getting the U.S. Forest Service to prohibit climbing on Cave Rock on Lake Tahoe’s east shore in 2003. The tribe considers the rock sacred.
Also in 2003, Wallace played a key role in getting Congress to give the tribe 24 acres of prime federal land at Skunk Harbor on the lake’s east shore. It was the first time since the mid-1800s that the tribe got its own land at Lake Tahoe.
Wallace also was credited for leading efforts on behalf of Indian child welfare reform and a cleanup of a Sierra Superfund site – the Leviathan mine in nearby Alpine County.