More accountability, action needed on Ute council
Editor’s note: For an interview to be published in the Cortez Journal, candidates running for Ute Mountain Ute tribal office need to contact Jim Mimiaga at 564-6034 by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4.
By Jim Mimiaga
Journal Staff Writer
Quinton Jacket, 52, believes his leadership skills and background in business are a good fit for a position on the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council.
“I’ve worked for different companies, and understand how to be efficient and work to solve problems with direct action,” he said in an interview. “I have a strong work ethic and understand how to get beyond politics to get things done.”
Jacket works for the Environmental Department at the tribe, monitoring gas and oil activities and keeping watch on natural resources on the reservation. Energy development is important for the tribe, and proper oversight is a key component.
“The energy industry is good for the economy, but it also has the potential to impact air and water quality so we want to make sure they are complying with tribal, state, and federal laws,” Jacket said.
Jacket takes a broader view of the job of council members.
“Too many times people will say,‘what can you promise me?’ I tell them I am committed to providing improvement for the tribal membership as a whole,” he said. “There are 2,000 tribal members with a lot of similar issues, and I want to determine a solution that benefits them all.”
Part of solving problems effectively is to have specialized training and not try and re-invent the wheel, Jacket explained.
“Learning from those who have been down that road will prevent us from making the same mistakes,” he said. “We can’t fix problems unless we have good training and networking to understand what the solutions are.”
A common complaint in Towaoc are the frequent trips to conferences by Tribal Council members who don’t share what they learned. Taking advantage of technology to attend conferences online is more practical, Jacket says.
“Harnessing technology using live video feeds to gather information, or just picking up the phone works just as well. There needs to be more of an effort to share that knowledge. Tribal members deserve to know, and passing on information fosters a sense of trust in government that is lacking right now.”
Tribal members receive a monthly per capita of $125. The amount has been stagnant, and better investment could help to increase the payment to accommodate for inflation, Jacket said.
“Chances are we can get better returns on our investment. Also in the community there is a lot of questioning about where all the money goes that is made at the casino, so that is something I’d look into,” he said.
Jacket adds that more accountability and attendance is needed in tribal government.
“They are not in their offices enough, there are never any financial reports released to the public,” he said. “There are a lot of questions that need answering.”