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Prop 10 losing with 650 ballots uncounted

BOULDER, Colo.

BOULDER, Colo.

With about 20 percent of the votes as yet uncounted, a controversial referendum to change San Juan County, Utah’s form of government appears to be losing.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, 1,735 people had voted against forming a committee to study alternative forms of government and 1,614 had voted for it, according to the San Juan Record (an employee at the county clerk’s office refused to give the unofficial results over the phone and referred this reporter to the local newspaper).

“When I left last night, there were still about 650 ballots sitting in the clerk’s office waiting to be counted,” Record editor Bill Boyle said.

San Juan County’s two Navajo commissioners, Kenneth Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes, had opposed the initiative, saying it was an obvious attempt to dilute the power of the county’s first majority-Navajo commission.

Blanding Mayor Joe Lyman, one of those who had circulated the petition to get the referendum on the ballot, said that wasn’t his intent and he was merely trying to institute a more representative form of government for the county.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Lyman said he wouldn’t press the issue again if the referendum fails.

“The voice of the people is paramount, and if the people don’t want to investigate other forms of government, then that’s it,” he said. “What concerns me is that if it goes the other way, the other side has stated they would initiate a lawsuit. I believe these matters should be decided democratically, not in the courts.”

President Jonathan Nez, who spoke against the initiative at a recent press conference, said he was glad to hear the initiative is losing and hopes the final results bear that out.

“The people have spoken loud and clear and it’s time to put this issue to rest,” Nez said. “Once the official results are finalized and if the preliminary results are confirmed, it should encourage all county officials to move forward with more meaningful initiatives like the improvement of school bus routes, stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and many other issues that will benefit all county residents.

“Now is the opportunity to put any differences behind and move forward on a path of unity and prosperity,” he said.

James Adakai, president of the Democrat Party in San Juan County, which opposed the initiative, said party volunteers went door-to-door to explain the proposition and the consequences it might have for Navajo-majority rule.

“I really think it made a difference,” he said. “No one ever came out to the chapters and explained what this initiative was and the pros and cons. It just came out of nowhere.”

Adakai thanked the volunteers who went door-to-door, saying it was no easy task in one of the most remote and sparsely populated areas of the reservation.



About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.