One of Nevada’s best known tribal leaders has been turned out of office in a dramatic upset.

Brian Wallace, running for reelection as chair of the Washoe Tribe, was defeated in an election involving a large field of candidates. Wallace won 25 percent of the vote against nine other candidates, with Waldo Walker winning on a vote of 34 percent. A full 41 percent of the vote went to eight other candidates.

Under tribal rules, a candidate can win on a plurality so there will be no runoff.

Wallace’s longevity had given his tribe a stability often lacking in some tribes, and as a result enhanced its influence. Reelected to his fourth four-year term in 2002 with 70 percent of the votes against five other candidates, he was best known outside tribal circles for obtaining return to the Washoe tribe of tens of thousands of acres of land in the Lake Tahoe basin.

In 1997, Wallace also negotiated a special federal access permit for the tribe with the Clinton administration for 440 acres of land longside the lake. “The first stewards of the lake were Washoe,” President Clinton said then. “Lake Tahoe is a product of the good steward’s hand, and they treated it that way. When the Washoe came to the lake, they blessed its waters and hardly left a track behind.”

Under the leadership of Wallace and tribal technologist Joseph Arthur, the tribe also became involved in conversion of tribal facilities to solar power, resulting in a $33,000 rebate to the tribe from Sierra Pacific Power Company in 2004, the result of a new state law providing financial incentives for use of alternative energy sources.

Walker, who is employed at Bently Nevada, declared himself on his campaign Web site to be in favor of reorganization of the tribe . He also called for “more funding opportunities for our tribal members” to seek educational opportunities.

The site also posted an endorsement of Walker from former state assemblymember Dawn Gibbons.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...