MASHPEE — If voters were trying to send a message in the Mashpee Wampanoag election Sunday, it wasn't a clear one. Voters overwhelmingly returned tribal council Chairman Cedric Cromwell to office but ousted Aaron Tobey, the council vice chairman and a Cromwell confidant.
Cromwell said Monday that his victory was an "amazing vote of confidence" from the majority of the tribe. "This election was really exciting. It was very magical," he said. "It was a statement from the tribe. We get it. We see what you do for the tribe."
Tobey said Monday two things hurt him in Sunday's vote — his support of Selena Jonas, who was ousted in her re-election bid for an at-large council seat, and his work as the chief negotiator of a compact with Gov. Deval Patrick that was rejected by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Tobey was defeated by 43 votes by Jessie "Little Doe" Baird, widely regarded for her work in helping to reclaim the tribe's native language and someone Cromwell described as "brilliant."
"I was surprised by the outcome," Tobey said. "The voters have spoken. I don't agree with it, but you have to accept it and move on."
Tobey praised Baird but said he was worried she would not be able to handle the duties of vice chairman and continue her efforts to start a tribal school.