The Seneca Nation of Indians is in the midst of politicking ahead of Seneca Party caucuses that will select the party’s nominee for President. The Seneca Party has long controlled the Nation’s Tribal Council and the gaming corporation’s Board of Directors. The two year presidency rotates this upcoming term to the Cattaraugus Territory, from which he or she will be elected.
Tribal Councillor Ross John Sr., a prominent player in the tobacco industry, is a leading contender and is actively considering a run. John is a former Councillor who has focused on his entrepreneurial interests for many years before recently rejoining the Council. He is a respected figure in Seneca Party circles.
Treasurer Todd Gates is considered next in line to the presidency. He has been a longtime Councillor and loyal member of the Seneca Party. It had been expected that he would receive the nomination until John began expressing greater interest.
Many members of the Seneca Party are dissatisfied with a slow pace of reform. They say that the party has long been dominated by men, never once endorsing a women for president, which they say exacerbates corruption and self dealing. Some party members are promoting the candidacy of Councillor Llona Leroy, who would be the first female president in Seneca history. It’s unclear if Leroy will enter the race, but her supporters are excited by a potential run.
Aaron Pierce, a tobacco wholesaler and bullet manufacturer who has donated heavily to local Democrats, is considering a run. He lost a presidential bid in 2012 and a run for Treasurer in 2010. Pierce is not a member of the Seneca Party.
Others are wondering if former Treasurer Brad John will consider running. He is an attractive and experienced young politician who many see as a future president.