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San Juan Co. feuds, tension escalates

San Juan Co. feuds, tension escalates


Tension between the new, mostly Navajo San Juan County Commission and the mostly white residents of the county seat came to a head at the regular commission meeting Tuesday in the wake of the abrupt resignation of the county administrator.

Over the objections of Commissioner Bruce Adams and several meeting attendees, the commission contracted with an interim administrator from outside the county to smooth the transition for two months while the position is advertised.

Commission Chairman Kenneth Maryboy said in an interview before the meeting that County Administrator Kelly Pehrson had been refusing to carry out directives from the commission since Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes took office in January.

The two Navajo Democrats were elected as a result of court-mandated redistricting, making this commission the first majority-Native commission in the county’s history.

Maryboy said the county’s Republican Anglo residents, including some of the county staff, “can’t stand to see Native Americans in the driver’s seat” and have been sabotaging the commission’s efforts to govern.

According to Maryboy, Pehrson turned in his resignation last Thursday with two days’ notice, putting the county in “a difficult position.”

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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


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