Candidates set for Feb. 8 Wampanoag tribal council election

Contest comes at crucial point in tribe's history
Pocknett, Hendricks, not seeking reelection

By James Kinsella

The candidates are set for next month's election of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribal council, an event that will determine who will lead the tribe in perhaps the most crucial time in its history.

Leadership of the 1,500-member tribe, which received federalrecognition in 2007, has become the subject of battle even before nextmonth's election.

Cedric Cromwell, George "Chuckie" Green and Putnam Peters have filed nomination papers for the position of chairman of the tribal council. The election is set for Feb. 8.

The current council chairman, Shawn Hendricks, is not seeking election to the position. Hendricks, the former vice chairman, moved up to the chairman's position in 2007 after Glenn Marshall, then the chairman, resigned after it was revealed he had lied about his military record and been convicted of rape.

In December, Marshall agreed to plead guilty to federal charges that included embezzling the tribe, tax fraud and Congressional election campaign violations.

The current vice chairman, David Pocknett, also is not seeking election to that post. Gordon Harris and tribal council members Richard Oakley and Aaron Tobey are seeking the vice chairman slot.

Desire Hendricks Moreno, the incumbent council secretary, is seeking re-election. She's running against Marita Scott and Marie Lopez Stone.

Incumbent treasurer Nellie Ramos also is seeking re-election. She will run against Charles Foster and Mark D. Harding.

A fifth seat on the tribal council seat on the tribal council, now held by Robert Dias, also is up for election. Dias is seeking re-election. He is being challenged by Selena Jonas and Jim Peters.

The charges against Marshall and his decision to plead guilty to them come as the tribe seeks to move forward with its proposed construction of a $1 billion casino in Middleborough.

Despite the Marshall scandal, Middleborough officials so far have stood beside the town's agreement with the tribe. The selectmen plan to review the situation following next month's tribal council election.

Leadership of the 1,500-member tribe, which received federal recognition in 2007, has become the subject of battle even before next month's election.

At an emergency meeting Friday of the tribal council, the council voted to place Hendricks and Moreno on paid administrative leave. A number of council members, such as Tobey, want to review whether council leaders had been meeting their fiduciary duty to the tribe.

Hendricks and Moreno apparently are disregarding the council's Friday night vote to place them on paid administrative leave.

But in a letter written last week, Hendricks has questioned the validity of the emergency meetings, saying the council has grounds not to call them.

He and Moreno apparently are disregarding the council's Friday night vote. Moreno, for example, was at work Monday at tribal headquarters off Great Neck Road South in Mashpee.

Next month's election promises to be even more contentious than that of 2005, when Paula Peters, a candidate for tribal council chairman, was kept off the ballot at the last minute in a tribal election law challenge.

The question of which pending tribal members will be allowed to vote and which ones won't already is rising is coming to the fore.

 

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