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Voters Group Meets in LeChee

Voters Group Meets in LeChee
June 11
13:25 2018

The Western Navajo part of the reservation-wide Navajo Voters Coalition (NVC) met June 7 to discuss the upcoming Navajo presidential primary.

The group did not endorse any particular one of the 19 contenders but Dennis Tsosie, who represents the Western Navajo group on the NVC, told participants to listen to what each candidate had to say.

Tsosie also said that Dineh Benally, a 2014 vice presidential candidate, wanted to come and speak to LeChee voters.

Benally was picked for the number two spot on the ticket headed by former two-term president Joe Shirley, Jr. They lost to the current administration – and also 2018 presidential contenders – of Russell Begaye and Jonathan Nez.

Shirley, who was top vote-getter in the 2014 primaries, was also a topic of discussion at the meeting.

Tsosie told coalition members that Shirley had written a letter to Steven Begay suggesting that they had the same goals in common. Begay was one of the original founders of the NVC – a group that played a major role in upending Shirley’s 2014 bid.

The voter coalition came into being after surprise 2014 primary runner-up Chris Clark Deschene was booted off the ballot by the Navajo Office of Hearings and Appeals.

After his strong showing in the 2014 primary Deschene’s ability to speak Navajo was challenged by two of the losing candidates. When Deschene, from LeChee, refused to take a Navajo literacy test the OHA ordered him removed from the ballot – a ruling that was eventually affirmed by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

The grassroots Navajo Voters Coalition sprang up in support of Deschene. When they were unable to get Deschene restored to the ballot the group turned it’s ire on Shirley – supporting the Begaye/Nez ticket – and set its sights on removing Navajo Supreme Court Chief Justice Herb Yazzie from the bench.

Yazzie eventually retired in 2015.

Deschene recently held a meeting in Shiprock with some of his supporters and announced that he would not be a Navajo presidential candidate in 2018.

Tsosie also said three representatives from Western Navajo were needed to attend a Navajo Voter Coalition summit planned for Window Rock.

After some discussion it was decided that Window Rock was too far away for anyone to attend. The group decided, instead, to support the summit through donations of cash and food.


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