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Deschene Talks About the Election

Deschene Talks About the Election
April 22
16:40 2015

Election # 2 4 21 15“I have no confidence in the leadership that was selected on Tuesday.”

Those were the words of Lechee’s Chris Deschene the day after Russell Begaye easily defeated Joe Shirley Junior in the Navajo Nation’s presidential election.

Mr. Begaye finished third behind Deschene last August in the primary, but was subsequently taken off the ballot, essentially by the Navajo Supreme Court. It had been alleged that he doesn’t speak the language with fluency, as required of a Navajo president. It is an allegation never proven.

Deschene pointed to the forty percent (or lower) voter turnout on Tuesday as an indication that the people of the Navajo Nation have been turned-off by what has transpired since last summer.

While the former candidate voted on Tuesday, he did not vote in the presidential race.

“As a measure of protest against that office and that election; that’s why I voted ‘no confidence,’” said Deschene.

He feels the Supreme Court’s recent rulings that allowed the election to proceed, even thought the Nation’s council and current President Ben Shelly approved legislation that called for a fluency referendum first, was wrong. It was legislation that was brought to life again on Friday when Window Rock District Judge Carol Perry ruled in favor of an injunction to stop Tuesday’s proceedings.

But the Supreme Court ruled the injunction; null and void.

Speaking of Mr. Begaye, Deschene says he is a man who has a long and tough road to hoe ahead of him.

“I don’t believe that he has any kind of majority, and frankly, I think that it is still ongoing. There are a number of issues that have to be resolved,” said Deschene. “We’ll have to wait and see if council does anything with respect to the chief justice. And if a removal takes place, does that change the whole sequence of events that lead to yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) election?”

The Page High School graduate added that all of this attention on the Navajo Nation hasn’t been a good thing.

“It’s unfortunate that all this has occurred and it really had a negative effect, not only on the participation, but the perception from the outside into our nation.”

Chris Deschene isn’t going anywhere. He has his work as an Arizona State Board of Education member and as an attorney. But you can bet his ear will be closely in tune with what is going on in Window Rock.

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