Barry Snyder Sr., the powerful businessman and political leader in the Seneca Nation of Indians, will not seek a sixth term as the tribe’s president.
The 76-year-old Snyder told The Buffalo News that he will support the candidacy of Todd Gates, the current Seneca Nation treasurer, who defeated Snyder last week in a caucus vote taken by the Seneca Party, which has long dominated the tribe’s elections.
“Todd Gates is a good man. I have known him and his family most of my life,” Snyder said. “Todd is my friend. We’re not like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I’m going to support Todd, Mo John for treasurer, and the rest of the candidates chosen by the Seneca Party. … It’s a good group of candidates.”
Snder said that several people approached him and asked him to run as an independent but that he decided against it.
“I believe in the party system. The Seneca Party has spoken. Now, it’s up to the whole Nation to speak in the general election,” Snyder said.
Gates will face tough competition in the November election from two very well-known and influential Seneca businesspeople – Sally Snow and J.C. Seneca.
A Seneca Nation president is paid at least $185,000 a year, making the tribe’s presidency one of the most lucrative elected offices in Western New York. The president controls hundreds of tribal jobs and has a major voice in the operations of the Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo casinos. Seneca presidents serve two-year terms. During his career, Snyder has served as president for five different, nonnonsecutive terms, making him one of the longest-serving presidents in the tribe’s history.
Snyder said the main reason that he ran for the Seneca Party’s nomination for president was his concern for how drugs and alcohol addiction have hurt the tribe, especially its young people, in recent decades.
“It’s my number-one issue, a very serious problem that we have to get serious about,” Snyder said. “If young people are our future, we have to do something about the drug problem. Many people don’t to talk about it. They say, that’s not my kid, my kid wouldn’t get involved with that. … But it is a very serious problem that we have to address.”
Snyder, who has 18 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren, said he will push the Seneca Nation toward making a major investment on new drug-treatment facilities and help for families of addicts.