Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon White Eagle will not get a second term after he came in ninth place out of 11 candidates in the Tuesday primary election.
With all ballots officially counted Wednesday, former president and current Ho-Chunk Nation Health and Wellness Coordinator Jon Greendeer was the runaway winner, earning 369 votes — 26.1 percent of the total — despite not being on the ballot and running as a write-in.
Tied for second with 145 votes (10.25 percent) each were Youth Services Division Director Lanette Walker and Healing-to-Wellness Court Coordinator Robert Mann.
White Eagle’s term was a tumultous one, derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns of the nation’s gaming centers, which sparked high unemployment and a devestating loss of revenue. It was also marked by a contentious battle over budgets between the executive and the legislature.
In an interview Thursday, Greendeer said he didn’t intend to run, but then saw the platforms being laid out by the other candidates, which he said “seem to be not consistent with the what I would feel the real issues are that we have in front of us.”
“There is a lot of heavy lifting, there is a lot of need for building unity within the tribe, to move beyond some of the trauma caused by the pandemic, the job loss, the loss of health care, the reduction in programs and services,” he said. “We cannot go forward with cookie cutter platform statements and move this nation forward.”
Greendeer served as president from 2011-2015.
Neither Walker nor Mann responded to messages seeking comment.
Normally, the top two vote-getters would move on to the June 6 general election. Given the tie for second, all three will be on the ballot.
A Ho-Chunk Nation official confirmed that by virtue of making it through the primary, Greendeer will appear on the ballot and won’t have to run as a write-in. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the June 6 election, a run-off between the top two vote-getters will be required.