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Navajo Council Approves Legislation to Start New Election

January 02
15:06 2015
Leonard  Tsosie

Leonard Tsosie

Just before the new year, the Navajo Nation Council — by an 11-1 vote — approved legislation that would wipe the slate clean and begin the process of electing the next Navajo president all over again.

The legislation was introduced by Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie, who was said to have worked hand-in-hand with the Navajo Election Administration in developing the proposed schedule.

If approved as-is by President Ben Shelly, candidates who want to vie for the Nation’s top job could begin filing on March 3rd. Though, the $1500 filing fee would be waived for anyone who paid to be part of the primary last August.

A new primary would be held in June and the election would be conducted across Navajo Nation in August.

This new piece of legislation was voted on the day after former presidential candidate, Chris Deschene, filed a motion to get his name back on the ballot. The idea behind the motion was the man who ultimately took the Page High School graduate’s name off the ballot this past fall, was Richie Nez, the Chief Hearing Officer for the Office of Hearings and Appeals. But Nez was fired recently by President Shelly for not having the credentials to hold the job. Therefore, the motion claims Nez had no business ruling on Deschene’s case.

Mr. Deschene’s issue dealt exclusively with a couple of failed candidates who accused him of not speaking Navajo fluently, as required of a President of the Navajo Nation. It was an accusation never proved, and was denied strongly by the candidate.

Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation Council is also working on legislation that, while not taking away the fluency requirement, would leave it up to the voters, not the courts.

If passed, no one knows if it would be in force for the 2015 election.

Right now, it’s a wait and see game, to find out if the current president will sign the legislation that would begin the search for a new leader at square one.

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