FARMINGTON — Members of the Navajo Nation voted overwhelmingly for Vice President Jonathan Nez and his running mate, Myron Lizer, for the tribal presidency and vice presidency on Tuesday.
The general election also saw the composition of the Navajo Nation Council change to include new members.
Voters also rejected a proposal to increase the salaries for the president and vice president by a large margin.
Nez and Lizer had 39,783 votes, followed by former president Joe Shirley Jr. and his running mate, Buu Nygren, with 20,146 votes, according to the unofficial results released by the Navajo Election Administration.
Shirley and Nygren were unable to dent the large deficit at any point Tuesday night.
At the election night party for Nez and Lizer in Window Rock, Arizona, supporters cheered and waved maroon campaign signs whenever they heard reports about the returns broadcast by a local radio station from the Navajo Nation Museum.
By the time Nez and Lizer arrived, to the music of rock band AC/DC, supporters were enthusiastic and greeted the two men with hugs and selfies.
“It feels great. I see that the Navajo people have spoken — overwhelmingly — for change, and that’s what this campaign is all about,” Nez said to The Daily Times. “I think after tonight, I ask for all of us to come back together as one Navajo family and start tackling the issues that we heard throughout the Navajo Nation.”
The mood at the party for the Shirley-Nygren campaign at Nakai Hall began as celebratory, then turned somber as the unofficial results were reported.
Shirley stood on stage alongside his wife, Vikki Shirley, and Nygren, and his wife, Jasmine Nygren, to listen to comments at the end of the event.
The five-time presidential candidate was enveloped by hugs and autograph requests from supporters after leaving the stage.
“What can I say — the numbers are what they are,” Shirley said to The Daily Times. “I’m sorry the numbers aren’t the other way. But I feel like we didn’t lose. We gave it a good shot. It is what it is.”
Newcomers elected to tribal council
The general election saw 12 newcomers elected to serve on the council as well as the return of three former delegates and nine incumbents.
Voters in the Northern Agency elected three women to serve on the 24-member council.
Incumbent Amber Kanazbah Crotty held off a challenge by Irvin Tyler to continue representing the Beclabito, Cove, Gadii’ahi-Tokoi, Red Valley, Toadlena-Two Grey Hills, Tooh Haltsooí and Tsé Alnaozt’i’í chapters.
Crotty received 2,266 votes, followed by Tyler with 971 votes. She will be joined on the council by newcomers Eugenia Charles-Newton and Charlaine Tso.
Charles-Newton had 1,588 votes and Vern R. Lee had 822 votes for Shiprock Chapter.
Tso won against incumbent Davis Filfred to represent the Aneth, Mexican Water, Red Mesa, Teec Nos Pos and Tólikan chapters.
She received 1,491 votes and Filfred received 1,212 votes.
In the race for the Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tsé Daa K’aan and Upper Fruitland chapters, Rickie Nez had 1,738 votes followed by Matthew Tso with 1,171 votes.
Voters also determined seats for agency wide offices.
In an uncontested race, Watona Kellywood received 9,698 votes to remain a Northern Agency representative on the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors.
Freda K. Nells received 7,356 votes and Jeanne Haskie received 3,722 votes for the Navajo Nation Board of Education.
A special election for Tooh Haltsooí Chapter, Ernest Smith had 188 votes and Louise Charley had 106 votes for the vice president seat for the Tooh Haltsooí Council of Naataani.
Voters did not support a referendum to increase the annual earnings for the tribal president and vice president. Results showed 18,802 votes in favor of the measure and 37,693 votes in opposition.
The results remain unofficial until certification by the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors following a 10-day grievance period, which started Wednesday.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at email@example.com.
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