We need a leader who gets it

WINDOW ROCK,Aug. 21, 2014

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T he task ahead for the next president and vice president is monumental, made steeper and more difficult by the lack of progress from either the Shelly-Jim or the Shirley-Shelly administrations. In my opinion, we have not heard sound and persuasive answers to many of the nation's issues.

We must elect a leader who gets it, a candidate who believes Navajo people are the entitled ones, entitled to good government and strong leadership.

We need a smart person to take on the task of reforming the government infrastructure. I prefer a leader from outside the Council Chamber, someone who will tackle with gusto the dysfunction within. A leader who's determined to fix it -- blow it up where necessary -- from the government by resolution to appointing people into positions they're not qualified for and the lack of accountability.

It has to be someone with energy and savvy to reduce the noxious political divisions and to do so by example.

We need a leader with genuine leadership skills, collaborative and decisive. When we have an issue at home or at work, we sit together and talk it through. We ask for help from good minds and we decide on a course of action. And then we get to work. All of that requires a willingness to listen and consider other points of view. The president and vice president must lead the way on how to do this within a governmental system.

Times have changed. More Navajo people, especially younger voters, want to take up the idea of a constitution. Government by resolution has outgrown its usefulness.

Navajo people would welcome an objective set of eyeballs on the nation's finances. The budget is one of the most important things the government does, because it drives almost everything else. We need a leader who understands we need to increase tribal revenues and knows how to keep the house in order.

And let's return to the simple and clear employment rules: If you're not up to the job, get someone in there who is.

It's time to elect a leader who is prepared to say, "No, I won't pull out the nation's checkbook to respond to any problem that comes up before we discuss the pros and cons if it can be solved without throwing money at it."

No candidate has said how they will create the highly educated workforce necessary for Navajo's long-term prosperity when students are struggling with math and science in schools.

Tell us how we can count on you to provide for the modern delivery of quality health care and an education system that teaches our children time-tested essentials along with the skills they need to enhance our sovereignty.

Looking back to the 1980s, no leader comes to mind that excelled in these areas and it was clear Shirley's administration was not willing to risk losing the next election in order to do what's right -- to get the house in order.

Wallace Hanley
Window Rock, Ariz.

Democracy is not well understood

Chili Yazzie should make up his mind. He says he belongs to the local community, an indication he may not make an effective president.

Hank Whitethorne is for Navajo sovereignty, less inclusion or none from the outside government (state or federal), and to clean house regarding the tribal Council. Good idea but hardly mentioned ideas on education, housing, or taxes.

Edison Wauneka is ready "to take back the land title," a comment far too general. I don't believe his family is new to Navajo politics.

Dale Edison Tsosie is about the fifth candidate who stated that rez schools have greatly declined and more rez children are dropping out. His plan is to hire more quality teachers. My comment is, how about addressing the dropout rate with the parents too? After all, the children have to live with the parents and do have some influence. It could be also that cultural clashes begin after primary schooling as children are more exposed to the outside world and they begin to lose cultural perspective with their parents.

Joe Shirley Jr. is "moving forward together"? My comment on that is he'll bring with him his "old guards" and old problems will remain -- this is not good.

Dan Smith is probably the only one who has voiced a stand against marijuana and alcohol legalization, as well as his distaste for casinos calling the items to be addictive for his people. Very good!

Cal Nez is for Navajo sovereignty and economic independence. Very good!

Ben Shelly. I heard him speak very eloquently on a PBS TV early on in his tenure. He is a very intelligent person. However eloquent he may be, during his tenure, progress was very slow. Now that he's heard a lot of ideas by other candidates, might he consider these ideas if he's re-elected?

Kenneth Maryboy, very interesting ideas.

Myron McLaughlin, interesting ideas. He's young and seems strong and straightforward. Navajos, you need someone like him.

Chris Deschene, interesting but needs to be more specific of his ideas. He seems highly qualified. He would be a leader to the college educated and the youth overall on the rez. He seems compassionate even to the elderly Navajos.

Kee Yazzie Mann seems to say he's not much for changes.

The only woman candidate, Carrie Lynn Martin, speaks Navajo and is an eloquent speaker, however, she didn't give us much of her plans, only that she's a great supporter of women and culture. My comment is she could speak more of her plans (i.e., for education or road projects). She should consider marriage, because Navajos and even the outside world like to see a strong woman but also married running for a political office.

Donald Benally is a little off target, i.e., create an office for 1868 Treaty (self-determination). My comment on that is, wasn't that the responsibility of the tribal Council? Benally has good ideas including an elimination of wasteful spending. Good luck on that. You're going to need the cooperative effort of all members of the tribal Council. Hopefully they won't be fighting during those efforts of changes.

I heard few ideas for improved education, road and housing projects. I heard only one statement about empowering the local community by inclusion. We should have more of that. After all, it is the local community that represents democracy -- they vote, they have voices and want to have some say and want to see the plans come to fruition.

Democracy in the Navajo tribal government is not well understood, i.e., just take a look at the power struggle in the Council chambers, the thefts of tribal and other monies and the local communities are not included in the decision-making power exercised by the chapter leaders for example, and often only their relatives have the favored service and aid from the chapter monies that are meant to be distributed evenly among the local communities, etc.

Yael Begaye
Chinle, Ariz.

Radicalism, liberalism produce change

I appreciate the young candidates who are running in hopes of making some real changes in our nation. I especially appreciate the energy displayed on challenging the establishment (U.S. government) to take control of our infrastructure, our destiny. We are a nation/state and need to start acting as such. The days of the BIA or tribal conservative leaders who clock in and follow old directives that haven't produced any progress need to be walked out.

Today in 2014, we have more college graduates within our nation without jobs and have left the nation to seek employment elsewhere. Twenty-plus years ago the situation was the same and nothing has changed. We have a wealth of opportunities within in our nation but no one dares to explore or go there because of the establishment rules and conditioning that "it's already been done" as our current president echoes or it takes too long to get it done. The days of these individuals saying "how high" when told to jump is over. It is radicalism that has created change.

I remember as a young boy marching downtown Farmington every other Saturday in hopes of someday changing the problems we faced with our people being killed along the highway of Hogback Store and the then Turquoise Bar. Well that bar has been closed for some time and eventually Zia Bar also. Change only occurs if you get involved to make a difference.

There are some people who sought change before, but in the end were left alone when it mattered most. We have seen change around the world over the past couple of years on social media and the Internet. We can do the same with our nation with your votes and with your support. The time is now.

So for those candidates who are afraid of change and calling these candidates "radical" and "liberals" need to step aside and let these candidates who will change the nation to step up. Throughout the late 60s and early 70s the U.S. government went through a huge transformation, which in turn allowed all Natives as well to gain the equal recognition and status we hold today as Diné people and as citizens of the U.S. It was through radicalism and liberalism that these much-needed changes were made.

So I ask you Sh’ Diné eh: Who do you want as your president? Someone who clocks in and answers "how high" or someone who will change the nation and challenge the establishment for a better infrastructure so we can truly be self sufficient. We deserve to have a leader who will think big and not allow us to continue to be oppressed.

Randy Benally
Rio Rancho, N.M.

Who can improve Bluff Road?

While politicians rally for the most coveted position as head of the Navajo Nation in the presidential office, life goes on all around them with social issues, health issues, and bad roads.

The community of Shiprock is one busy place with a meeting here, a meeting there, conducted by potential presidential candidates. What promises must proceed from these gatherings?

One is made to wonder what will actually evolve from such political promises. Real problems facing the Navajo people of Shiprock are the basic ones of social issues like more and more individuals wandering around City Market asking for help, the longer and longer waiting time to see a doctor and get treatment, and driving on deplorable roads.

My challenge to the numerous Shiprock politicians who declared their intentions to be the next Navajo Nation leaders at the presidential level or at the Council delegate level is what one individual will do to make a difference. Who can take responsibility with a good team to really get projects started and get work done?

Shiprock is the hub of surrounding areas, but it remains virtually the same for the last four decades. My main pet peeve is the ongoing lack of road maintenance on Route 546, which is known as the Bluff Road. The existence of two road departments exists in titles only (BIA roads and Navajo Department of Transportation), each pointing to the other and denying accountability.

If there is a chain of command, who is ultimately the top person to approve when the Bluff Road will be graded and made better?

In a matter of days, school buses will traveling on this road that is full of potholes. How do parents of school children feel about the safety of their children, as they are bused twice daily, five days a week?

Are school officials ready for extra repairs of school buses as they bounce back and forth and incur damages to wheels/tires?

At the individual resident level, this Bluff Road is an essential route to get from home to work, to the store, to the hospital, and all other places. When will there be improvements?

Wilford R. Joe
Shiprock, N.M.

Demand transparency and accountability

Election season is again upon us, my fellow Navajo citizens and relatives, and the attention of a young nation is focused on the rhetoric and qualms of various leaders who upon election will seek to lead us in whatever fashion they deem as progressive.

I, as well as you, have become incensed and frustrated with the dilapidated state our beloved Diné Bikeyah has fallen upon, wherever you may find us scattered about the world one unifying factor remains consistent: We are not content with our government.

The ears of our politicians favor the tongues of foreign-born lawyers and methodology rather than the voice and benevolent wisdom of our forerunners. Even in the scholarly capacity we are viciously silenced in all forums of government where we can effectively relay what we have learned in study to our own people.

As a recent Navajo graduate of Arizona State University, I am finding the idea of "education is the ladder" to be a facade used by my "leaders" to prop up foreign institutions that prepare our youth to fail in the outside world. This instance culminated in a visit paid by Ben Shelly and his cabinet to ASU on April 11, 2014, whereas they demonstrated to an assembly of my cohorts and I they are completely unfit to hold the reigns of leadership of my nation.

No real plans for economic development were presented and at times the cabinet displayed their own weakness by arguing with one another in a public forum over returned federal funding while we watched on in embarrassment.

Shelly stood there with his finger waving in the air touting the progressive measures graciously pushed forward by his neo-socialism: "The Navajo Nation is a socialist government!" Things made much more sense after his self-damning declaration of foreign ideology as a cornerstone of Navajo government. For my people unaware, socialism is an economical idea standardized in the form of government innovated by communist nations of the 20th century, whereby the power to consolidate economic decisions via committee is absolute. No ideas are allowed to fluctuate and innovation is crippled in its capacity to renew a nation. Does the situation sound familiar?

The future of our young nation deserves better than a committee vote of outdated (and obsolete) political institutions created by non-Navajo people in a different time. Transparency has become a new buzzword, so I, as a young patriot of my Navajo Nation, beseech the voters to demand transparency and accountability from all of our leaders and branches. It is they who should fear the power of a unified Navajo people from all corners of our nation, not the other way around.

Ben Shelly is wrong, the people are not socialists in their origin or values, and they do not consent to the continued misrepresentation of our values at home or abroad. Our voice will be heard from the local chapter houses to the border towns that continually abuse our patronage.

Faustino Trejo
Tselani-Cottonwood, Ariz.

Oil & gas controversy taints candidates

I am currently a junior at the University of Arizona. I am majoring in political science. I have been away from the reservation for quite some time living in different parts of Arizona. I spent my summer following politics as I attended forums, campaign meetings, and simply analyzed and researched candidates' background.

I began my summer supporting one candidate and I am ending my summer supporting another. This other particular candidate knows the meaning of responsibility, ethics, and also respects the Navajo culture. Now, this letter will state what I see wrong from two other candidates, one which I am no longer supporting, who are running for president of our great Navajo Nation.

As elections get closer, the Navajo people need to learn more about each candidate. The Navajo Times issued an article in their latest paper about the Navajo Oil and Gas Company's shareholders, which include candidates Russell Begaye and Kenneth Maryboy. Both, including two more individuals, were removed because of term limits and other special reasons by the Navajo Supreme Court.

Instead of accepting it, the four individuals went against the Supreme Court's decision and went to U.S. District Court. The U.S. District Court struck down Begaye and Maryboy's case because the Navajo Supreme Court had already ruled on it. They currently stand undecided and defeated, as they have tried every way to find ways to become shareholders of the company again.

The NNOGC is a huge asset of our reservation. It brings in an influx of revenue each fiscal quarter. We don't need long-standing people on the NNOGC's board because of how prestigious it is. Now, is this something we need? If sovereignty is a big issue on our reservation, do these candidates seem worthy of executing it? Sovereignty comes in when the individuals decided to look past their own Supreme Court. Not a smart move for them, they just humiliated themselves as well as flaunting our own Supreme Court. We need leaders with true ethics and honesty.

Begaye can be heard on the radio saying he is the most ethical person of all candidates. I want the people of the Navajo Nation to learn that he is very hypocritical. We need to end this era of leadership by not voting him or Maryboy into office.

As a college student and young Diné male, I am concerned with the brainwashing occurring through each of these candidates' campaign. Our elders and children need a better future and these two are not worthy of such a prestigious position in all of Indian Country.

(Editor's note: The shareholders -- including Begaye and Maryboy -- were not removed by the Navajo Supreme Court. The issue before the U.S. District Court was the shareholders' request for a temporary restraining order against the members of the oil and gas board. The court denied this, which left the case still pending. The shareholders voluntarily withdrew the lawsuit. Begaye and Maryboy remain shareholders today.)

Kyron White
Tucson, Ariz.

Young voters need to register, then vote

This is an open letter to the Navajo Nation about upcoming elections for the next president of the Navajo Nation. I want to personally appeal to the younger generation to encourage them to take action and make a difference in electing our next president. We hear or read every week of sad conditions of our Navajo Nation government. I believe 2014 is time for our youth to speak up. How we do that is to register and exercise your voting power.

Another activity is to visit your chapter meetings and get involved with the community meetings. Time is now to stop this nonsense of electing career politicians as they pursue another round of confusing decisions and ineffective planning for our nation. We all have a good clear picture of current conditions of legislative decisions that have been made from the president's office and also the Council delegates from the past to present.

My closing words will focus on my endorsement of Chris Deschene for Navajo Nation president. How can we not give a person with the backbone proven a chance to lead our nation?

How can we not justify or argue with his résumé? He's the example of what one will strive for in terms of goals and getting something out of life. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by, not to give a young man with credentials the opportunity to be president of the Navajo Nation.

Please join me in electing this fine young man as Navajo Nation president. I encourage all my relatives and friends to follow suit and get behind Mr. Deschene. I encourage my rodeo friends as well. It is possible to do it.

I also encourage all other local candidates not to split votes and get behind your best candidate for 2014. Let a veteran, lawyer, engineer, state legislator and community leader be your next Navajo Nation president.

Dexter Donald Sr.
Cow Springs, Ariz.

Is settlement Maryboy's reason for running?

I attended a meeting at Red Mesa Chapter pertaining to the Navajo Nation and state of Utah water rights settlement facilitated by the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission -- Leo Manheimer. The meeting was advertised as open and public. In the course of the meeting it became apparent that the meeting was conducted at the pleasure of Mark Maryboy and Kenneth Maryboy who on behalf of the Utah residents invited the commission to expedite the progression of the settlement.

Most of the people in attendance came from nearby communities of Teec Nos Pos, Sweetwater, Mexican Water, Oljato, Dennehotso, and Red Mesa, Ariz., and others. And the reason for nearby communities' participation in the discussion was because their chapters were included in the survey as current water users and therefore would also be counted for future water demand under the settlement.

The documents distributed were for "discussion only" and the Arizona residents took advantage of the presentation with questions. Apparently Mark Maryboy perceived these questions as oppositional and delaying his plan to expedite the settlement. He told the audience, "We shouldn't listen to these people who have gone away for an education, the ones making all the noise and asking questions. Only Utah people have a right to the discussion process."

He instructed the commission to not "pay attention to these people from Arizona and New Mexico" and proceed with the water settlement as planned. Mr. Manheimer cooperated with Mr. Maryboy and halted further participation. But before it all ended, one young lady from Navajo Mountain responded to Mr. Maryboy reminding him and others that educated young people do leave the reservation to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. She and many others have adhered the teaching of their parents and grandparents to return home to empower our Diné communities with educated information.

As I reflect on the meeting, I began to wonder if the Navajo Nation/state of Utah water rights settlement is the main reason Kenneth Maryboy is running for Navajo Nation presidency. He admitted at the Shiprock forum (on June 5) by stating, "I am going around my government É working for you," but ultimately it sounds like he is securing a deal for himself. His company may "market" Navajo water to non-Navajo users similar to what former Senator Kyl was attempting to do with SB2109 in Arizona. And therefore, I wondered why Kenneth and Mark Maryboy were exclusive on who participated in the discussion on the water settlement?

Sylvia Clahchischilli
Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

Tsosie has quality, strength, integrity

I am writing in support of Dale E. Tsosie for Navajo Nation president. Mr. Tsosie really is the whole package and the best candidate for the position. He has shown himself to be an open, honest, and intelligent man that carries himself with integrity and compassion. He always makes a point to speak highly of others while offering bits of encouragement.

Mr. Tsosie makes it a point to acknowledge and thank his Creator and does so to show us that as a leader, you must have a belief system in place. He will not applaud himself or his achievements, nor will he slander or degrade any of the other candidates. I believe that these qualities present a man of quality, strength and integrity. One who will change the direction and face of the Navajo Nation for the better.

I highly encourage you, shi Diné, to consider the qualities of Dale E. Tsosie and compare them to the rest of the candidate field. You will find that he is not followed by scandal or negativity. You will also find that his plans are the most logical and thoughtful to progress from where we are today as a nation.

Thank you Navajo Times for following this primary election season and striving to provide coverage of each candidate. Biighah Dale!

Talia Laughter
LeChee, Ariz.

Tsosie remains true to his beliefs

Naaneesht'ézhi Táchii'nii nishli. Tótsohnii bashishchiin. Tódich'ii'nii da sh’ chei. Tó' aheedliinii da sh’ nali. Tselani doo Tseligaideez'ahi dee nashaa.

I am a 25-year-old Navajo woman pursuing a career in the sciences. Currently, I work for the Water Quality Program for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and am pursuing a master's degree.

I have followed the 2014 election season with hopes of hearing from a candidate who not just speaks, but also listens to the Diné people. A genuine leader listens to and identifies the weaknesses and strengths of a collective group of people. He or she then carries the team forward by creating opportunity through realistic action plans.

A leader speaks articulately and compassionately for their constituents. I envision this leader sitting and talking over coffee with my grandparents about their concerns entirely in Navajo. This same person should move comfortably in the halls of Washington, D.C.

We are a quasi-sovereign nation and therefore must maintain an honest and open relationship with our federal government. We need someone who will advocate for us across the world. A wise leader understands that at an early age our children are learning more than we can comprehend as adults. This leader is a role model for my generation, one who exemplifies how to conduct ourselves as Native Americans.

The reason we are not heard on a political level is not because the older generation isn't listening, it is because we do not actively participate in our government. In 50 years, we won't have our grandparents to sit for us at local chapter meetings and Council Chambers. Ask yourself, "In what condition do you hope to see our Navajo Nation for your grandchildren?"

On a final note, one candidate stands alone as a leader who has remained humble but dedicated to his beliefs and devotion to Diné of all ages and all walks of life. I've had the opportunity to speak with his very supportive and equally compassionate wife. When they address educational issues, they think of their own eight grandchildren and yours as well.

This candidate's plans are to restore trust in our government. He pledges to strengthen fiscal accountability and ensure all students are meeting national standards by holding states and government to financial obligations to fully fund education and having master's level teachers. He has spoken of building a stronger and dependable law enforcement by utilizing the skills and resources we already have.

Like our nataani Peterson Zah, I, a young person with strong ties to my homeland, too, have looked, listened and observed all the candidates. I did my research, followed the forums, read the social media and talked to fellow young folks about their dreams and hopes. My endorsement is just as valid and just as strong as Mr. Zah's, who is also my yaazh.

As a woman who has chosen to pursue higher education for the betterment of my Diné people, I fully endorse Dale E. Tsosie of LeChee, Ariz., as the next president of the Navajo Nation. He has remained true to his beliefs, no unrealistic promises, no bending to special interests, and no belittling of other candidates. Just the simple promise to work for the people.

Audrey Harvey
Durango, Colo.

Dennehotso vets support Deschene

The Dennehotso Veterans Organization unanimously voted to support Chris Deschene for Navajo Nation president at their regular meeting held July 14, 2014.

According to the veterans, we are interested in having a Navajo Nation president that has proven his capabilities and ability to lead. From our standpoint, we are also committed to the same principles Mr. Deschene has as it relates to culture, strong leadership, healthy economy and investment in the future.

Mr. Deschene has done well in his educational and professional endeavors. This is evident by his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering, a juris doctorate in law and serving 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps (retiring as a major). He is a former Arizona state legislator and currently a practicing attorney (business owner).

One of our beliefs as veterans in Dennehotso is we took an oath to serve our country. Now that we are home, we must make the same commitment to giving back to our community. We believe that Mr. Deschene subscribes to this same commitment as evidenced by his continued service to the LeChee community and his devotion to the young people as a coach in Page, Ariz.

Chester Van Haskan
Dennehotso Veterans Organization
Dennehotso, Ariz.

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