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Former Marine elected Mescalero president

When he found out that he won the presidency of the Mescalero Apache Tribe Tuesday by a margin of several hundred votes, Gabe Aguilar headed home, hugged his wife, Robyn, and his daughter.

Gabe Aguilar, president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe

But he didn’t have much time for the news to sink in before congratulatory calls began pouring in and more than 100 texts overwhelmed his phone.

“They were pouring in from tribal leaders throughout the state,” Aguilar said Wednesday. “Even this morning, they are coming in and I am trying to respond to everyone.”

The new vice president is Eddie Martinez, who was elected for the first time to the tribal council a year ago and decided to run for the post Aguilar vacated in October when he was elevated to president after the resignation of former president Arthur “Butch” Blazer because of health issues.

Aguilar won the presidency with 765 votes to challenger Mark Chino’s 496 votes. Chino has served multiple terms as president.

Martinez received 709 votes to Sandra Platero’s 539 votes. Platero previously has served as vice president and interim president.

The two men and new council members will take their oaths Jan. 10.

“Elections are always tough days,” Aguilar said. “The results showed me that the community decided to give me a chance. This is my fifth consecutive win. I’m excited.”

“I am going to focus on bettering my community for all tribal members from elders to the youth, focusing on community and creating jobs.”

Aguilar served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005, and the U.S. Army Reserves from 2006 to 2012. He also completed two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A graduate of Mescalero High School, he worked in various capacities for the tribe before pursuing a career in politics. He is the son of Faustino and Harriet Aguilar.

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