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The Latest on the Navajo Presidential Election

The Latest on the Navajo Presidential Election
January 17
09:53 2015

It’s pretty sure we haven’t heard the last of Chris Deschene, the Lechee native and attorney who was disqualified last year to be a candidate for Navajo Nation President.

Reports indicate that during last week’s swearing-in of Navajo officials in Window Rock, Mr. Deschene was mobbed by young Navajos. He was quoted as saying, “They believe their votes should count. No one respects their voice.”

In an editorial published over the weekend in Fort Defiance, one public policy scholar said what has happened to the Navajo Presidential selection process has shaken the very foundation of Navajo government. Maroni Benally went on to say, “Without a strong executive, how can we move forward?”

The editorial itself was written by Julie Turkewitz.

She says many supporters of Deschene continue to be angry that their votes did not count last year. And, apparently, there are voter’s rights groups that are organizing across the Navajo Nation.

This past week a motion filed by an attorney for Chris Deschene with the Office of Hearings and Appeals in Window Rock was dismissed. The motion had sought to put the Page High School and U.S. Naval Academy graduate back on the Presidential ballot to face Joe Shirley Junior.

The motion cited the fact that the man who ultimately booted Deschene off the ballot, Richie Nez, was subsequently fired by President Ben Shelly, for not having the qualifications to hold the office. In the ruling on Deschene’s motion, it said Nez’ standing wasn’t relevant to the October decision.

So while Shelly has signed legislation to move the election to August of this year, at the same time a motion has been filed with the Navajo Supreme Court to hold the election within the next two weeks; before the end of the month.

That motion was filed by Dale Tsosie and hank Whitethorne; the same two failed Navajo Presidential candidates who brought-up the fluency issue in the first place concerning Chris Deschene.

The allegation that Deschene couldn’t speak Navajo fluently was never proven, and it’s a claim he denies. Meanwhile, no other Navajo Presidential candidate had his fluency efficiency questioned; only Christopher Clark Deschene.

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