10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, April 28, 2010

By JOHN ASBURY
The Press-Enterprise

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians has elected a new tribal chairman, ending more than 30 years of leadership from former Chairman Robert Salgado.

The tribe elected Scott Cozart as its new chairman Friday. Salgado stepped down last year following a federal indictment on bribery charges. His trial is now scheduled to begin Oct. 15.

Cozart last served as vice-chairman until he was voted out of office in 2006. He previously served as tribal chairman from 1986 to 1988.

Also elected to serve on the tribal council were former council members Geneva Mojado and Edward Soza, defeating former Vice-Chairwoman Rosemary Morillo and councilmember Gordon Placencia.

Council members Rose Salgado and Steve Lopez have one more year remaining on their two-year terms.

Tribal council members declined to comment this week until they convene for their first tribal council meeting since the election scheduled for Tuesday.

“We’ve always had our goals set and we keep moving forward,” Rose Salgado said.

Cozart’s election ends Salgado’s tenure on the council since he was first elected chairman in 1976. Salgado served on the council and was re-elected off and on as chairman for more than three decades, at times resigning unexpectedly before returning to office.

Salgado led the tribe to landmark legislation with the U.S. government to secure the tribe’s water rights. He also was visible in media accounts in 2008 after a monthslong standoff with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department over law enforcement access to the reservation.

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