Farmington businessman is among five candidates who want to represent five northwestern Navajo Nation chapters

Hannah Grover
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — David L. John hopes to transform the infrastructure in the northwestern portion of the Navajo Nation.

John is one of five men running for council delegate to represent five Navajo Nation chapters, Arizona's Mexican Water, Sweetwater-Tó ikan and Teec Nos Pos chapters and Utah's Red Mesa and Aneth chapters.

Also running for the seat are Davis Filfred, of Aneth, Francis Redhouse, of Teec Nos Pos, Steven S. Benally, of Sweetwater-Tó ikan, and Herman Farley, of Red Mesa. All four could not be reached for comment when contacted via Facebook, email or phone over the last few weeks.

The Navajo Nation's primary election is on Aug. 26, and the general election will take place on Nov. 4.

John is a Navajo businessman who has lived in Farmington for more than 30 years. He has worked in politics for more than three decades, including three terms as a Navajo Nation Council delegate. During that time, he served as the chairman of the tribe's Economic Development Committee. He has also served on the city of Farmington's Community Relations Commission.

"I was born and raised on the reservation, and my heart is over there," he said.

John chose to leave the Navajo Nation due to the challenges of starting businesses there. He said entrepreneurs on the reservation have to go through the Navajo Nation, the state government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"You go through at least three or four governments before you can start a business," he said.

Another problem entrepreneurs face is getting loans for their businesses, because the land is held in trust by the federal government.

"Banks won't loan on it because it doesn't have any equity," John said.

John hopes to make the reservation more business-friendly and raise the standard of living by expanding infrastructure.

"I'd love to see everybody have running water and electricity in their home," John said.

Currently, John said about 40 percent of the people who live in the Mexican Water, Sweetwater-Tó ikan, Teec Nos Pos, Red Mesa and Aneth areas do not have running water or electricity.

Filfred has previously served on the tribal council and as vice president of the Aneth Chapter. He has also had positions on various school boards, commissions and state, tribal and federal boards, including the now-defunct Health and Social Services Committee. When he served as a delegate for Montezuma Creek, he fought to try to ensure oil revenue from exploration in the Aneth area stayed with the Navajo in Utah, according to Deseret News archives.

Redhouse was also a tribal delegate who worked to keep oil revenue with Utah's Navajo people, according to the Utah newspaper's archives.

Benally and Farley are both members of a traditional Navajo spiritual group, Azeé Bee Nahagha of Diné Nation.

Benally currently serves as the president of the group's board of directors, and Farley is on the board.

Farley is also the president of the Red Mesa Chapter. According to Daily Times archives, the Northern Navajo Agency Council nominated Farley in December to serve on the Commission on Navajo Government Development, which makes recommendations to ensure an accountable and responsible tribal government.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.