Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

May 25, 2012

Tribe elects new chairman, council members

PESHAWBESTOWN — The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians have a new tribal chairman and two new tribal council members.

Alvin Pedwaydon defeated tribal government veteran Bob Kewaygoshkum 268-167 in the May 16 tribal chairman race.

Tribal council challengers Joanne Gasco and Tom Shomin also easily wrested away the seats of incumbents Sandra Witherspoon and Brian Napont in a six-way race for three council posts. Incumbent Dave Arroyo survived.

Gasco won the most votes in the council race with 260, followed by Arroyo with 219, Shomin with 216, Witherspoon with 168 and Napont with 156.

Kewaygoshkum will remain on the council to finish the last two years of his four-year term.

"The membership is looking for change," Kewaygoshkum said when asked about the tribal chairman results. "It wasn't close. I lost by 100 votes. I'll just move forward and will hopefully move with the new team."

Pedwaydon said he was "elated and relieved" by his win.

Election results were released Thursday morning.

A total 446 tribal members in the band's six-county service area voted in the election at polls in Peshawbestown, Traverse City, Charlevoix and Benzie County.

A swearing-in ceremony will be held today at 1 p.m. at the Leelanau Sands Casino Showroom in Peshawbestown. The public is invited.

Gasco, a former tribal judge, attributed the outcome to tribal members' sense of disconnect with governing officials.

"I think the people are saying they want to be heard," she said.

Gasco grew up in Peshawbestown, graduated in 1985 from Suttons Bay High School and studied law and business administration in Wisconsin.

Pedwaydon said during his election campaign that the biggest tribal issue for him is "the funding of all of our social programs, health care and jobs." One of the first things he plans to do is review tribal financial records and analyze costs.

He is a retired business and fiscal manager of the Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services.

He is the son of John Pedwaydon, who left Peshawbestown during the Great Depression and moved to Detroit to find work.

Outgoing tribal chairman Derek Bailey decided not to run for re-election and is making a bid for a state House seat.

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