As shareholders arrived at Bethel’s high school gym on Friday afternoon, they said that they had some tough questions for their corporation’s leadership.
The gym slowly filled up with well-informed shareholders in camo and kuspuqs. Some constituents picked up snacks, and many were accompanied by grandchildren. This is the first annual meeting that Calista has held in Bethel in years, and a few shareholders said that it might get intense.
"I think it's going to be an interesting one," said Warren Jones, General Manager of Quinhagak’s village corporation.
"We need to find out a lot of things that’s going on that we don’t know about," said Quinhagak elder Grace Hill. "Maybe this is a good time to ask the questions."
Rachel from Kwigillingok, who declined to give her full name, was a bit more direct. "I just want to see these people gotten rid of," she said. "We need a new adminstration!" All three constituents flew into Bethel on Friday and went straight to the meeting from the airport.
Calista has been rocked by controversies this year. The corporation and its CEO, Andrew Guy, were sued in a sexual harassment case earlier this week, and Calista has been trying to kick former chairman Wayne Don off of its Board of Directors for months. The months-long power struggle between Guy, Don, and their supporters has devolved into public name-calling and a flurry of litigation. Several shareholders said that they were fed up with the corporation’s internal politics.
"I don’t like it when somebody did wrong and then they blame somebody else to hide their actions," said Mary Nanuwak, an elder and retired nurse based in Bethel. "Most people are just working for their immediate self and immediate family and friends. And that’s wrong."
Four of Calista’s five board members are up for reelection today, and today’s election results could fundamentally shift the balance of power within the organization. Mary Nanuwak voted early, and she wouldn’t divulge who she supported, but she did say that she was hoping for change.
"Since I couldn’t do any write-ins," she said, "I voted for the people who listen non-judgmentally and who will do anything in their power to make better life for everybody."
Shareholders will also vote on whether Calista should create a Native Alaska Settlement Trust. That should lower shareholders’ tax rate when they start paying federal taxes on their dividends in the next few years.
KYUK expects to receive the election’s preliminary results on Friday night.