AKWESASNE — What was supposed to be an unopposed race for Chief became a close race when a write-in candidate came within 25 votes of winning in the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe 2021 election .
Incumbent Eric Thompson was re-elected to his position of Chief, with 271 total votes. Ronald LaFrance, Jr., a write-in on the ballot, received 247 total votes for the position — missing becoming Chief-elect by 25 votes.
Thompson received 204 votes on Saturday’s Election Day, while LaFrance garnered 193 write-ins. LaFrance, who is the head coach of the Salmon River Central girls’ lacrosse team, edged Thompson in absentee ballot totals, 17-13, but the incumbent received 54 early votes. LaFrance got 37 early vote tallies. The race for the chief position, which featured nine total write-in candidates, had 58 total voided ballots. Two ballots were deemed spoiled.
Incumbent Summer Bero was elected as the SRM Tribal Clerk with 427 total votes — with 336 of them tallied on Saturday. Bero’s contender, Jamie Ross, received 104 Election Day votes and 143 total votes.
Incumbent Benjamin Herne, who ran unopposed for Sub-Chief, received 502 total votes. The Sub-Chief position featured 19 write-in candidates, however, none cracked 15 votes. Cheryl Jacobs, the lead write-in challenger, garnered 12 votes total.
Voters are eligible to utilize a 5-day appeal process and bring any result appeal forward to the Tribe’s Election Board, SRMT Director of Communications Brendan White said Monday. The appeal period will end on Friday at 5 p.m., White said.
After Friday, the Election Board will make decisions on each appeal brought forward.
Results could be official within two weeks, White said.