PJ Burns, Agnes “Sweets” Jacobs and Curtis White are seeking seats on the Salmon River School Board in New York. Burns is an incumbent on the board. Photos courtesy Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
Education | Politics

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe weighs in on local election with three citizens on ballot

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is getting out the Native vote ahead of an upcoming election in New York.

Three citizens are on the ballot for seats on the Salmon River School Board. PJ Burns, an incumbent and police officer on the reservation, is being joined by Agnes “Sweets” Jacobs, a sub-chief for the tribe, and Curtis White, a parent and veteran, in running in the May 15 election.

“We express our appreciation to the three candidates for their desire to represent the interests of all students in the Salmon River Central School District,” Chief Beverly Cook said in a press release on Monday. “Our children represent our community’s future and, with continuing representation from our community, we’re confident that the school board will continue to seek partnerships and opportunities to help prepare all students for college or a chosen career.”

According to the tribe, 68 percent of the students at Salmon River are enrolled citizens. One school is located on the reservation and the others are in Mohawk territory.

The St. Regis Mohawk School, the one on the reservation, is in fact hosting the school board election for the first time this year. A proposal has been added to the ballot to continue the practice, with elections alternating between St. Regis and the main Salmon River school every year.

“Holding the school board elections at the St. Regis Mohawk School is a measure that our community has been seeking that will increase inclusion of Akwesasne residents in decisions made by the school district” Chief Eric Thompson said.

The school board has nine members, with Burns winning a seat in a special election in 2015 after being endorsed by the tribe. Craig Jock, another tribal citizen, won in 2016, again after a tribal endorsement.

Emily Lauzon, the vice president of the board, is also connected to the tribe. She works at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort on the reservation.

Two seats are up for grabs in the May 15 vote.