Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation speaks at the Bangor Daily News office on Jan. 30, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy tribes reelected two long-time chiefs and one newcomer to their top positions in general elections last week. 

Members of the Penobscot Nation voted to give Chief Kirk Francis another term in the tribe’s top role during the nation’s general election on Sept. 10.

Francis has held the office since 2006 and was elected to serve a sixth term by Penobscot voters. By the end of this new term, which starts Oct. 1, Francis will have held the position for two decades. He won by 176 votes over June Sapiel.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkmikuk reelected Chief William Nicholas for a fourth, four-year term in the tribe’s top position while Passamaquoddy voters in Sipayik selected tribal representative Rena Newell as the tribe’s new chief. 

Penobscot voters also reelected Mark Sockbeson as vice chief of the Penobscot Nation. Sockbeson ran for the position unopposed, according to results from the nation

In this 2007 file photo, William Nicholas (left) presents Gov. John Baldacci with a traditional Passamaquoddy weave basket at the Veazie Salmon Club. Credit: Bridget Brown / BDN

Meanwhile, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkmikuk elected former chief and vice chief Joseph Socobasin as vice chief of the tribe once again, ousting current Vice Chief Darrell Newell. In Sipayik, members of the tribe elected Pos Bassett as vice chief.  

In the Penobscot Nation, voters elected Ronald Bear, Miles Francis, Maria Girouard, Patricia Knox-Nicola, Debra Kondilis and Faye Lawson to four-year terms on the Tribal Council. The council is a 12-member body with half of the members elected every two years.

In Motahkmikuk, voters also elected Wade Lola, Alex Nicholas and Roger Socobasin to the Tribal Council as well as Aaron Dana as the Passamaquoddy tribal representative to the Maine Legislature. 

Who can serve as the Passamaquoddy representative alternates between Motahkmikuk and Sipayik, and this term is designated for someone from Motahkmikuk, according to the Wabanaki Alliance. 

At Sipayik, voters elected Shirley Mitchell, Melissa Whipun Francis and Cyril Francis to serve on the Tribal Council. 

Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis said he is thankful that members of the Penobscot Nation entrusted him with another term. 

“It has been my honor and consider it a privilege to have been able to serve in this capacity over the past 16 years representing so many amazing people,” Francis said. “I look forward to the many issues we will work on over the next four years.”

In this Jan. 30, 2020, file photo, Rena Newell speaks at the Bangor Daily News office. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

At Sipayik, Newell thanked community members for their support and election to the top role. 

“To serve the Sipayik community is a great honor that I accept with humility and a pledge to both honor all our ancestors and to make decisions with future generations of Passamaquoddy people in mind,” she said.

All three chiefs will start their terms on Oct. 1. 

The Houlton Band of Maliseets also announced that they had appointed Osihkiyol Crofton-Macdonald as their first tribal ambassador.

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...