Voters pick Nez, Nygren for president
Navajo Nation voters have spoken and Buu Nygren will challenge incumbent Jonathan Nez for the tribal presidency on Nov. 8.
Unofficial results from the Navajo Nation primary election show Nez with 17,073 votes and Nygren in second with 12,878.
According to the Navajo Election Administration, 47,495 voters cast votes on Tuesday for a 38.9% turnout.
Both candidates expressed thanks to their supporters in the primary election.
“We appreciate the loyal Nez base, which came out today,” Nez said on Tuesday night. “The dedicated 14,000 people who voted last primary election stepped up and made sure that they cast their vote for the continuation of our administration.”
Nygren said he visited 20 chapters on Tuesday and spent 13 hours on the reservation roads visiting voters.
“We ran a campaign that really shook things up,” Nygren said to his supporters. “I am very, very thankful for all of your hard work all the way up to this point.
“Four months ago, we made an announcement to run for Navajo Nation president,” he said. “With your help, your support, it’s been wonderful these past four months.”
Nez led throughout the night as election returns came in, followed by Nygren.
Unofficial results showed Justin Jones in third place with 8,769 votes and Ethel Branch, who received 3,857, in fourth place.
Now his team has to get back to work, said Nez.
“We gotta move the Nation forward, that will continue, always,” Nez said. “So, tomorrow we got a bunch of meetings, and we’re gonna have to sit back down with the team.”
Nygren, who held a rally at the fairgrounds in Window Rock, said on Tuesday night his victory in the primary reiterates that the voters who voted for him are eager for new leadership.
“We need new leadership to really get things done to effectively work with Council and to effectively make the Navajo Nation government more efficient,” he said, “more effective at the Window Rock level and at the local level.
“That’s the same message that I’ve heard over and over,” he said, “and that’s what we’re going to continue doing.”
Nygren said the candidates in this election were “highly educated, highly qualified people” who ran an “amazing and inspirational race.”
“They’ve all greeted me and welcomed me as I’ve visited their booths, their canopies,” he said. “I shook their hands. All 13 of us are on the same page as we need new leadership now.”
Nez said all the candidates “did an outstanding job.”
“At the debates, in the forums, we wish them well,” he said. “Many of them are our friends as well.”
Voters speak out
Mexican Springs resident Betty Patterson-Damon, whose husband Al Damon was one of 12 delegate candidates in District 14, said she hopes the next president will not forget the veterans and elderly they said they’d fight for.
“We talk about veterans, in any election, whether it’s on the reservation or off reservation, it is always the veteran,” she said. “Once the election is over, nobody remembers the veterans. Then it’s the same way with the elders.”
Patterson-Damon wondered how many candidates actually visited the elderly.
“Once they get elected, so what?” she said.
She added that previous administrations and previous Councils have yet to fulfill promises to Navajo veterans and Navajo elderly.
Lanae Notah, from Church Rock, said she applied for a job with the tribe.
She didn’t get the job because she was told she was overqualified. At 22, she said she’s never been turned down for a job for being overqualified.
“They tell us to go out and get you get an education and then we come back and there’s no jobs,” she said. “I did try to apply for a temporary position and I was told I was overqualified.
“That was the first time ever, I’ve never heard such a thing and I was just completely shocked,” she said. “What do you want, someone that doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree?
“I was told that’s what I should be going to get higher education,” she said. “So that shocked me very much.”
Notah said she voted for Buu Nygren because she felt he could relate to the younger generation.
“Him being able to relate to the younger generation and bringing in opportunities for the youth is still very important because I think there’s a lot of youth out here that want to work and get experience and learn the system and everything,” she said on Tuesday.
“If they’re being turned down and told they’re overqualified, then that just doesn’t make sense,” she said. “So I think it’s very important and I do think he does relate to the young voters.”
Darlene Onsae, from Twin Lakes, said both delegate and president candidates should not forget the Navajos who are struggling financially and educationally.
She added Navajos with special needs also needed assistance.
“Look at what they — each family – is in need of,” she said. “They really need to look at and see what they can help with, how they can help them.
That’s very important to me, and I’m a single parent too,” she said. “So that’s important to also look at the single parents are struggling trying to raise their own kids. Yes, that’s, that’s important.”