Farmington — The Navajo Nation's election season started Thursday as the filing period opened for tribal offices.
The bid for the next tribal president was off to a slow start, with only one candidate submitting paperwork.
Former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., who served from January 2003 to January 2011, filed his paperwork at the Navajo Election Administration office in Window Rock, Ariz.
"Everything on our end is done ... so we are off and running," said Patrick Sandoval, Shirley's campaign manager.
This year's election will also determine who will serve on the Navajo Nation Council, the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and the Navajo Nation Board of Education.
In the community of Kayenta, Ariz., residents will determine the membership of the Kayenta Township Commission.
There is a filing fee for each position. The cost to file is $1,500 for the president, $500 for the tribal council and $200 for the election board, education board and the Kayenta Township Commission.
Candidates may pick up and file paperwork at the election offices in Crownpoint and Shiprock in New Mexico and in Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock in Arizona.
Virginia Nelson, a voter registration specialist at the election office in Shiprock, said no one submitted candidacy paperwork at the office on Thursday. But, she said, one person picked up a packet for president.
Edison Wauneka, executive director of the Navajo Election Administration, said the number of individuals who file candidacy papers usually increases a few weeks before the deadline to file, which is May 28.
To qualify for president, the candidate must be at least 30 years old and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, according to tribal law.
Other requirements state the candidate must fluently speak and understand the Navajo language and read and write English. Candidates must be registered voters and cannot be convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor involving crimes of deceit, untruthfulness and dishonesty within the last five years. The candidate also cannot have been indicted by a federal grand jury at the time of filing their candidate application.
To run for the tribal council, a person must be at least 25 years old, an enrolled member of the tribe and able to speak and understand Navajo and English.
They must be a registered voter in the chapter they are seeking to represent. Like presidential candidates, they cannot be convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor involving crimes of deceit, untruthfulness and dishonesty within the last five years.
The primary election is Aug. 26, and the general election is Nov. 4.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.