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
Mark Wing, 41, a candidate for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council, remembers when the tribe was more self-sufficient and transparent, attributes he wants to bring back.
“We used to provide a lot for ourselves, but we drew back from that and nowadays services come from outside the reservation,” he said in an interview. “We should take care of our own business by hiring from within and using our own equipment.”
Services such as glass repair, transportation, and air-conditioning are obtained off the reservation, but should be businesses the tribe sets up on its own, he said.
If elected Wing would push for the tribe to purchase semi-trucks to provide hauling services for livestock and crop transportation. With the largest truck stop in the Four Corners, more should be done to take advantage of business opportunities and services for the trucking industry.
“I feel we could expand and improve that business, and help provide for more employment for our tribal members,” he said. “Opening a truck wash and other truck services should be looked into.”
Another issue he wants to change is the format for payments under the Ute Mountain Housing Authority. Currently, home payments fluctuate when incomes go up or down, but Wing believes a set payment is more fair.
“I don’t agree with the way the payments change. A set payment is more accommodating for families and community members. When there is extra income it should go toward groceries and other family necessities,” he said.
Wing also believes better communication is needed between the Tribal Council and the community.
“A lot of the meetings are closed and resolutions are made behind closed doors,” he said. “They are afraid of criticism, different opinions, but that is why you are in that position, to listen and represent the community. You have to bear it.”
The public needs more information, he added.
“The council used to sit down with the community on a regular basis where the people could give their opinions, but that has not happened for years and years.”
More sharing of knowledge gained from conferences attended by council members is also needed.
“Too often something changes at the state or federal level, and nobody in the community had any advanced notice,” he said.
If elected, Wing said he would give regular updates of council activities in the tribal newspaper, the Weenuche Smoke Signals.
“The people elect us, and it is our job to provide the information and be a voice for their concerns,” he said.