Karena Thundercloud is the new District 11 supervisor for Jackson County after Michelle Greendeer-Rave stepped down from her post earlier this year because she moved out of the district.
Thundercloud was sworn in on Oct. 30 and will serve on the board until April when an election will take place for the seat. District 11 is made up of the towns of City Point and Komensky and the fourth ward of the town of Brockway.
“I thought it would be a good experience and I believe I have something to offer in the way of county needs,” Thundercloud said.
Thundercloud worked at the Ho-Chunk Nation Health Department for 15 years as a health and wellness coordinator before she was asked to take an appointment on President Wilfrid Cleveland’s staff as the executive director for the Department of Administration.
She is currently a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature, serving District 1 since July. She has also been a community member of Black River Falls since 1968.
Greendeer-Rave actually recommended Thundercloud for the post.
“I didn’t want my constituents to be disenfranchised while I was out and have no representation. I thought long and hard and I thought I needed to find someone who is a go-getter, hot on the issues, pays attention to what is happening locally and nationally, and the first person that came to mind was her,” Greendeer-Rave said.
Thundercloud said that she was also happy to see that the committees Greendeer-Rave sat on were of interest to her including the Health and Human Services Committee, Law Enforcement Committee and Zoning Committee.
Thundercloud expressed that one of the major things she will be working on is the opiate epidemic in Jackson County.
“We have developed a tribal action plan through our executive branch and it has the support of the Ho-Chunk Nation legislature and the support of the executive branch. So that we are working diligently on, and trying to bring the whole epidemic to some kind of closure through grassroots initiatives,” Thundercloud said.
The opiate epidemic was also an issue important to Greendeer-Rave.
“What I brought to the table to the county board was different than probably most of the county board members saw because I see everything first-hand working in my profession,” Greendeer-Rave said. “I think that Karena will be able to carry that need. I fought very hard to try to have extra drug and alcohol abuse counselors at Jackson County and they were able to add another position full-time, so I felt like that was a win.”
Thundercloud also plans to address frac sand mining because she feels it is an important issue to her constituents in District 11.
“That is a huge topic that comes up at our area meetings every month. People are concerned about it. People hope to keep it out of the county as much as possible – they definitely want to keep it out of our district, so that has been on the forefront of our legislative schedule right now,” Thundercloud said.
Thundercloud is currently uncertain if she will run for the seat in April, “This will give me a feel for whether I actually want to run next time.”
As for Greendeer-Rave, she is anticipating running in her new district when it comes up for election.
“I won’t be gone long because I want to continue running. I want my voice to be at that table. Although I am a little bit of a firecracker – I openly admit that. Sometimes you just need a firecracker in life to wake you up to the issues,” Greendeer-Rave said.
Thundercloud’s first meeting will take place Nov. 13 during the annual meeting.