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Reels, Thomas lose bids to rejoin Mashantucket Tribal Council

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published November 07. 2011 4:00AM
Former chairmen not among top two vote-getters in election

Mashantucket - Two newcomers - Roy E. Colebut-Ingram Sr. and Steven E. Colebut - won election Sunday to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, which has undergone a major face-lift since 2009.

After tribal members voted to fill the two available council seats, they voted again to elect a vice chairman, choosing Councilor Fatima Dames. The council governs the tribe and oversees the management of its Foxwoods Resort Casino, including MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

Colebut-Ingram and Colebut were the top vote-getters in a 12-candidate field that included two former council chairmen, Michael Thomas and Kenny Reels. While the tribe provided no vote totals, a tribal source indicated Thomas, a controversial figure ousted as chairman two years ago, garnered little support.

First elected chairman in 2003, Thomas was removed by other councilors over his handling of news of the tribe's financial woes. He then withdrew as a candidate for re-election in November 2009 and recently said he hoped to find out where he stood with the membership by running in this year's election.

Neither Thomas nor Reels answered messages Sunday night.

Colebut-Ingram and Colebut will begin three-year terms in January. Colebut-Ingram is the executive director of advertising for Foxwoods and a former nightclub disc jockey.

"The Tribe spoke as a whole and the team spoke; my team are the members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation," he said in a statement released by the tribe following the election.

Added Colebut, a special assistant to Councilor Steven Thomas, "The people are ready for change and we are ready to bring it."

Dames, elected to the council a year ago after serving a term from 2001 to 2003, will succeed Richard E. Sebastian as vice chairman. Sebastian, whose term expires at the end of this year, announced about a week-and-a-half ago that he would not seek re-election.

Council Treasurer James Jackson, who was up for re-election, failed in his bid to win a second term. The council will elect a new treasurer when it convenes next year.

According to the tribe's website, Dames is certified as a paralegal and holds a bachelor's degree in legal studies and a master's in American Indian studies from the University of Arizona.

"I am thankful to God and thankful to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation for their support," she said.

Nearly 300 tribal members voted in the election, an especially healthy turnout, according to tribal sources. The tribe numbers more than 950 members, about half of whom - adults 18 and older - are eligible to vote.

In addition to Dames, the councilors not up for election this year were Chairman Rodney Butler, Secretary Marjorie Colebut-Jackson, Steven Thomas and Crystal Whipple. Only the tenures of Butler and Colebut-Jackson began before January 2010.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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