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San Juan County, Utah Voting on the Mind of Begaye

San Juan County, Utah Voting on the Mind of Begaye
November 15
09:01 2017


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz – President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez urge all Utah Navajo tribal members to attend two upcoming public meetings regarding the San Juan County School Board and County Commission election districts.

“The Navajo vote is the swing vote in all three states that the Nation encompasses. It’s unfortunate that San Juan County redistricted the voting areas in such a way that slighted our people when it comes to School Board and County Commission seats,” President Russell Begaye said. “We appreciate the court acknowledging and standing with the Navajo Nation to ensure that counties better represent our Navajo people.”

President Begaye noted that the Navajo Nation has a large constituency in Utah.

“We want to make sure that this redistricting is apportioned so that our people are properly represented. Our people will be out there voting in force to make sure that we have more representation,” he said. “We pay taxes and we provide revenue to the State of Utah. We need our voices to be heard because we are a part of the economy in the region.”

Vice President Jonathan Nez has supported fair districting in San Juan County and Utah since he was a Council Delegate. Gerrymandering within these districts neglects proper representation of majority populations.

“We have Navajo communities in San Juan County, Utah that have been affected by discrimination in the lines drawn for the current districting,” Vice President Nez said. “The County and School Board districts shouldn’t discriminate against any population and in this case, against the Navajo people. Districting within these areas should represent the majority populations and these populations should rightfully choose their School Board members and County Commissioners.”

On Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 the Utah Federal District Court held a status conference in Navajo Nation v. San Juan County. After the conference a minute entry was entered scheduling two public meetings in San Juan County on Nov. 16, 2017. One meeting will be held at the Hide Out Community Center in Monticello, UT from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The second meeting will be held at Bluff Community Center in Bluff, UT from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

These meetings will provide San Juan County community members an opportunity to comment on the proposed School Board and County Commission election districts. Each site will have tables for the public to submit comments and a court staff employee to take feedback from the public.

The proposed maps were developed by the Court-appointed Special Master, Dr. Bernard Grofman, in response to the Court’s previous rulings that the County’s current School Board and County Commission election districts violate the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, in part because the districts were drawn based on race. The Court appointed a Special Master to assist in creating lawful remedial election districts for the Commission and the School Board. The Court anticipates implementing the new election districts for the 2018 election cycle.

“The Nation is pleased the Court is seeking input from Navajo members of the County.” stated Attorney General Ethel Branch. “This has been a long process and it is important that all Navajos in San Juan County are allowed an opportunity to participate in the redrawing of their election districts. Our hope is that the Court will hear the concerns of our people and adopt voting districts that address their concerns and give them a much needed voice in County politics.”

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