The Wrangell Cooperative Association will be holding elections for its Tribal Council on Feb. 15. Four two-year terms are open on the council and five candidates or seeking seats.

Richard Oliver, Lovey Brock and Louella Knapp are running for reelection. Sam Campus, who has served on the panel in recent years, is running for his second term, and Bill Willard is seeking his first.

Tribal Administrator Aaron Angerman noted the tribe has been working on a five-year comprehensive plan and says it will be a large part the council’s work.

“That’s going to be one of the first things to take on,” said Angerman.

Angerman added the board will also be looking at several prospects to diversify revenue streams. WCA funding primarily comes from federal sources. He says the tribe doesn’t want rely solely on those funds.

“With the influx of cruise ships coming in, we want to capitalize on that,” explained Angerman. “We want to be able to move forward with our housing assessment results and perhaps look at some senior housing, but also energy efficiency which came in as a top priority.”

Sitting President Oliver has served one term. He explained that if elected, he would like to see several initiatives continue.

“We’ve been working on expanding tourism here, offering more than we did last year,” said Oliver.

Oliver also mentioned a fisheries program aimed at hiring young people interested in resource management.

“We’ve been trying to work with Fish and Game and the Forest Service to see what part the tribe can play in working on managing our resources around here, fish,” he said. “We’ve got some grant money that we can help supplement their program.”

Most candidates mentioned it as a priority. Among several possibilities, the program could work to enhance salmon streams or collect data to manage fisheries.

Oliver touted the moving of WCA’s offices from downtown to a tribe-owned building near the Alpine Minimart as a sign of progress. The residential building off Zimovia Highway is set to be renovated this spring, and the move may be completed by the fall.

Current council member Brock has served on the board for seven terms. Brock also says she’s happy with the progress of tribal services and programs.

“If you think about it, all we did is dream about these things and now they’re coming to fruition,” she said.

Brock has served as council secretary and vice president during her time on the council and noted she’s particularly hopeful for the fisheries initiative.   

Another sitting council member, Knapp, is seeking her second term. Knapp says she would like to boost the tribe’s enrollment.

“I’d like to try to be some help with the enrollment because that’s something that has been neglected,” she explained. “I’d like to see that picked up again.”

Sam Campus, who served as president in 2015, wants to return to the council. Campus left the panel in 2016 due to medical issues.

He wants the panel to focus on recent housing survey results and home repair needs of members. The survey’s purpose was to identify tribal housing needs, and most respondents identified energy efficiency and senior housing as a top priority. WCA has been working to build a home for seniors on the former Wrangell Institute property.

First-time candidate Willard says he’s been active with the tribe off and on all of his life and currently manages the tribe’s transportation department.

“I’m just interested in our tribal government, WCA, our tribal citizens and a lot of the work the board has been doing,” he said.

The council’s work on its comprehensive plan is set to continue through most of 2017. Election results will be finalized later this month. WCA members 18 and older are eligible to vote. Administrator Angerman says anyone with questions about their eligibility can call the office at 874-4304.