Pakootas will run for Congress

INCHELIUM—Colville Tribal leader Joe Pakootas has announced that he will make a run at Congress and the seat held by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Pakootas, CEO of the Colville Tribal Federal Corporation, will run as a Democrat against McMorris Rodgers. Pakootas, 56, says his run is about jobs, economic inequality, health care and education. Pakootas, who served on the Colville Business Council for 16 years and is an Inchelium High School graduate, acknowledges that the campaign ahead will be a difficult one against McMorris Rodgers, widely seen as one of the GOP’s Congressional power brokers. McMorris Rodgers, who grew up around Kettle Falls and attended Columbia River Christian Academy, has held the seat in the House of Representatives since 2005. The Spokane woman is chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. Pakootas, who served five of those 16 years as chairman of the Business Council, has served as Colville Tribal Federal Corp. CEO since January 2010. Colville Tribal Federal Corp. was recently recognized as the University of Washington’s minority business of the year. The CTFC businesses include the Colville Tribes’ three casinos, three grocery stores, two smoke shops and other interests, including the Qwik Stop at Barney’s Junction that opened last year. Those businesses employ more than 400 people. Pakootas, who last year announced plans to seek the senate seat vacated by incumbent Bob Morton’s retirement, later decided not to run. But he said a run for Congress has been in the back of his mind for quite some time and that friends had encouraged him to run. He has developed a website: Pakootas married to wife Cheryl (four adult children), said he will likely take a leave of absence later this year to devote full-time to his campaign.