Aquinnah voters opted for a changing of the guard at the annual town election this year, electing former Wampanoag tribal council chairman Beverly Wright as their new selectman.
Ms. Wright defeated two-term selectman Camille Rose 124-95 in the Wednesday election.
A total of 225 voters turned out at the polls, 56 per cent of the 398 registered voters in town. Town clerk Carolyn Feltz presided over the election which still involves hand-counting ballots. Aquinnah uses an antique voting box from 1880; each paper ballot is cranked through the machine.
With the addition of Ms. Wright, the tribe now has a sitting majority on the board — she joins Jim Newman and tribal member Spencer Booker. Ms. Wright was chairman of the tribal council from 1992 to 2004.
“I’m very happy, but I’m glad it’s over. I think we both ran a nice campaign and there was no negativity, which I think is good,” Ms. Wright said on election night by telephone from Atlanta, where she is attending a leadership conference for women of color at Spelman College. She will return to the Island on Sunday and be sworn in on Tuesday.
“I was like, wow . . . and so happy because people worked hard on my behalf,” Ms. Wright told the Gazette, speaking of the moment she learned she had won. “We got out a lot of votes,” she said.
Ms. Wright said she wanted to sit on the board and learn the ropes before she tackles any specific issues, and she encouraged townspeople to attend the selectmen’s meetings.
“I will go to the selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday and sit and listen and see what’s going on, but I don’t think it’s in my best interest to go barging in there,” Ms. Wright said. “When I was out campaigning people had things they wanted to consider and I told them they have to do their homework before they bring it before the selectmen . . . but I hope people who have talked to me about certain issues will start to come forward.”
Ms. Rose said she was thankful for the opportunity to serve the town for so many years.
“I thank all the people who supported my candidacy and the very special staff I have been privileged to work with,” she said yesterday. “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the past six years and hope that this continues.”
There were no other contests in the town election.
Also elected were: Jean Lince, library trustee, 189; Michael Stutz, board of assessors, 171; Sarah Saltonstall, board of health, 207; Carolyn Feltz, town clerk, 211; Peter Temple, planning board, 181; Jed Smith, planning board, 178.
By REMY TUMIN