Candidate: Nation needs maintenance, repair

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, March 13, 2014

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Myron McLaughlin

The Navajo Nation's two administrative buildings that were closed after mold was found in the structures are a good metaphor for the Navajo Nation government, Myron McLaughlin told a crowd of about 100 supporters at the Chinle Community Center Sunday.

Like the buildings, the government needs to be “restored, repaired and redirected,” McLaughlin said. And he believes he — a facilities supervisor who worked for seven years managing the huge sports complexes at the University of Arizona — is the man for the job.

At 35, McLaughlin — who is filling the unexpired term of his late mother, Priscilla Clark, as Chinle Chapter vice president — admits there are those who think he’s a little young for the job of Navajo Nation president.

However, McLaughlin thinks it’s time for some young blood to rise to the top.

“What compelled me to run is, we need change and it needs to be done now,” he said.

McLaughlin, a Chinle native who has been married for 15 years to a woman he has known since kindergarten, said his first task as president would be to review all Navajo Nation policies and bring them up to date.

He would also work to eliminate corruption in all corners of the tribal government and “reevaluate and rectify questionable contracts and agreements,” including the purchase of BHP Billiton’s Navajo Mine and water rights settlements.

The candidate would also work to make both the tribe’s attorney general and chief justice elected offices, he said, and refer any new laws pertaining to government to a popular vote.

Priorities under a McLaughlin administration would be education — including creating more jobs on the nation for educated Navajos who want to come back, public safety, housing and roads.

McLaughlin believes the tribe needs to take more responsibility for road maintenance and develop gravel pits throughout the nation.

“If we can’t pave ’em, let’s at least gravel ’em,” he said of the roads.

None of those things are promises, however.

“What I hear about promises is that they’re made to be broken,” said McLaughlin, who is Tó Dichíinii born for Naaláni (Standing Rock Sioux). “I am not promising you anything. I am only guaranteeing you change."

The young candidate got some surprising endorsements from several of Central Agency’s elder statesmen, including former Council speaker Nelson Gorman and Piñon Chapter President Bessie Allen.

Allen, on her fourth term as a chapter official, said that over the past 12 years, she has seen Window Rock become increasingly “unfriendly” toward chapter governments, including telling her chapter, once it got certified, “You’re on your own."

“How much more are we going to take?” Allen asked. “Navajo Nation, let’s get a new leader! A brand new one, not one that’s been in there before!”

Said Gorman, “I have the confidence in Myron McLaughlin to be the president of the Navajo Nation. We’re speaking the truth. He can do it."

McLaughlin is not the only Chinleite to declare his candidacy. Former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, having sat out a term, filed for office last month.

Shawna Claw, who acted as mistress of ceremonies for the campaign rally Sunday, cautioned Central Agency voters not to split their vote.

“We need to all get behind one candidate,” she said. “Otherwise, Shiprock or someone else is going to be in there."

Attending the gathering but not speaking was McLaughlin’s stepfather, former Council delegate Harry Clark, one of the 70-some current and former delegates implicated in the misuse of tribal discretionary funds.

Clark is accused of obtaining $21,600 in discretionary funds for his family members from other delegates in exchange for allocating equal amounts to their families.

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