Melanie Benjamin will continue to serve as chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Virgil Wind will assume the position of District I representative after a general election on Aug. 18.
This is Benjamin’s sixth consecutive four-year term election win. Benjamin received 58.94 percent of the votes while challenger Carolyn Beaulieu received 41.06 percent from a total of 1,096 ballots cast in the race for chief executive, according to a news release.
In the race for District I representative, Virgil Wind received 57.12 percent while incumbent Sandra Blake received 42.88 percent of the 646 ballots cast for District I representative.
Benjamin said, “All of the ideas in this election had to do with how we can best serve the people, and the best ideas always come from the people. During this election we talked about some big goals for the Band, and I know that working together, we will achieve every one of those goals,” in the news release.
Wind has served as an Onamia Public School District school board chairman, local Indian parent committee member, businessman and independent contractor.
“As the Onamia Public School chairman, I have learned valuable lessons on leadership; one of the most important aspects of this work has been empowering people and bridging communities, something I hold in high regard,” said Wind, in the news release. “I value every lesson I have learned along the way as they made me who I am today, a resilient and compassionate leader. I pledge to always have the best interest of the Band at the heart of every decision and will always have an open door. I am ready to listen to the Band members and get to work for the community.”
The Band Assembly, under the Legislative Branch, consists of one representative from each of the Reservation’s three districts and the secretary/treasurer, who presides over the Band Assembly as Speaker of the Assembly. All members of the Band Assembly serve four-year terms. The chief executive leads the executive branch. All positions are four-year terms.
In closing, Benjamin said, “If we follow our Anishinaabe values and keep our Elders, our children and our future front-and-center every day, I am convinced that the best days of the Mille Lacs Band are ahead of us. To me, there is no higher calling than service to our Band and I am grateful we have so many Band Members who are committed to public service and building a brighter future together. Miigwech.”