Former Shinnecock Indian Nation trustee Fred Bess retook his former post Tuesday night in a first-time runoff election of the Southampton tribe.
Bess had last been elected a trustee in 2009, but he lost the seat last year to longtime Shinnecock trustee Lance Gumbs. He defeated Gumbs in the Tuesday runoff, which was required after Gumbs and Bess tied for a trustee seat in the April 5 annual Shinnecock election.
Tribal trustee Randy King retook his chairman's post April 5, and first-time trustee Gerrod Smith was also elected. Smith is the eldest son of Charles K. Smith, who served 30 consecutive terms as trustee between 1948 and 1978 -- the longest-serving trustee. The trustee with the most votes is named chairman in the annual election.
The runoff was the first since the tribe began the trustee system in 1792. Election reforms in 2007 moved tribal voting from Southampton Town Hall to the Shinnecock reservation, and the tribe now uses regulation voting booths monitored by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, according to Beverly Jensen, tribal spokeswoman.