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19 Hope to Become Navajo President

19 Hope to Become Navajo President
June 01
08:44 2018

If three’s a crowd, what do you call 19?

That’s how many candidates have met the May 30 deadline to file for the 2018 Navajo Nation presidential election.

The race for the top spot in overseeing the largest reservation in the U.S. doesn’t come cheap. Each candidate also had to pay a $1,500 fee.

Incumbent President Russell Begaye is hoping to get re-elected.

Begaye finished third in the controversial 2014 contest. In 2014, former president Joe Shirley, Jr., received the most votes in the primary. The surprise runner-up was Chris Deschene, of LeChee.

Then the election took a wacky turn that made national news.

Two losing candidates filed a grievance against Deschene – claiming that he could not speak fluent Navajo, as required by tribal law.

The Office of Hearings and Appeals ordered Deschene to undertake a test, showing that he could speak Navajo. When Deschene refused to comply, the OHA disqualified Deschene.

The issue roiled the Navajo Nation Council, which tried to retroactively replace the language requirement, and reached the tribe’s Supreme Court which ordered the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors to hold an election between Shirley and third-place finisher Begaye.

When the NBOES refused they were removed from office.

Through this turmoil, former president Ben Shelly – who had failed in his re-election bid – had to remain in office past his term until a new election could be held.

Begaye emerged victorious – with his chosen vice president, Jonathan Nez.

Now Nez is going to be an opponent. Nez, of Shonto, is hoping to become president.

Shirley, a former two-term president, is also running again. His former 2014 running mate, Dineh Benally, has also filed to run.

Former vice president Rex Lee Jim, who served during the Shelly administration, is also running. Lee is also a published author.

Also joining the race is Tom Tso, a former Supreme Court chief justice, former council delegate Hope MacDonald-Lonetree, current delegate Alton Shepherd and former Congressional candidate Shawn Redd.

The first candidates to file include; Emily Ellison, who works for the University of New Mexico in Gallup, Nicholas Taylor, an investment advisor from Klagetoh, Ariz., and tribal council Delegate Tom Chee.

Most of the candidates are from the Arizona portion of the reservation, with five from New Mexico and none from Utah.

The Board of Election Supervisors will vet the presidential hopefuls over the next two weeks and release an official list.

The top two finishers in the primary then face off in the general election on November 6.

The list of 2018 presidential hopefuls include:
President Russell Begaye (Shiprock, NM)
Tom Chee (Shiprock, NM)
Tom Tso (Teec Nos Pos, AZ)
Trudie Jackson (Teec Nos Pos, AZ)
Dineh Benally (Shiprock, NM)
Emily Ellison (Chichiltah/Manuelito, NM)
Nicholas Taylor (Klagetoh AZ)
Alton Shepherd (Ganado, AZ)
Hope MacDonald-Lonetree (Tuba City, AZ)
Shawn Redd (Dilkon, AZ)
Vice President Jonathan Nez (Shonto, AZ)
Former Vice President Rex Lee Jim (Rock Point,AZ)
Former NN President Joe Shirley, Jr. (Chinle, AZ)
Norman Patrick Brown (Many Farms, AZ)
Vincent Yazzie (Tolani Lake, AZ)

Kevin Cody (Pinon, AZ)

Benny Bahe (Houck, AZ)

Calvin Lee, Jr. (Greasewood Springs, AZ)

Lester Begay (Whiterock, NM)



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