Navajo Nation presidential candidate Russell Begaye announces running mate

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation presidential hopeful Russell Begaye announced his running mate as Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jonathan Nez on Wednesday in Window Rock, Ariz.

Nez is serving his second term on the tribal council, where he represents the chapters of Navajo Mountain, Shonto and Ts'ah bii Kin in Arizona, and Oljato Chapter in Utah.

He is the vice chairman for the council's Budget and Finance Committee and is a county supervisor for Navajo County in Arizona.

Nez ran unopposed for his council seat and was re-elected Tuesday, having received 1,884 votes, according to the unofficial results from the Navajo Election Administration.

"I accept this incredible opportunity because I believe our Navajo people are ready for solutions rooted in healing and compassion for one another," Nez said in a statement.

Nez is 'Áshiihíí (Salt People Clan), born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle Clan). His maternal grandfather is Tódích'íi'nii (Bitter Water Clan), and his paternal grandfather is Táchii' nii (Red Running Into the Water People Clan).

He has a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in public administration and a certificate in public management, all from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Begaye said he talked with various groups and people about selecting a vice presidential candidate.

"He always ended up being on their lists," he said.

Begaye said he noticed the innovation and balance Nez brings to the council, as well as the respect he receives from fellow delegates.

"He is a good example for the people," Begaye said. "He doesn't talk about things but gets things done."

The work Nez has accomplished for the communities goes beyond projects and services, Begaye said, adding that Nez works with young people and promotes healthy living styles by participating in the annual bicycling and running activities that cross the reservation.

According to a campaign press release, Begaye and Nez are planning activities across the Navajo Nation and are waiting for information from the Navajo Election Administration to announce the date of the special election for the presidency.

Last week, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court upheld a ruling from a lower court that ordered disqualified presidential candidate Chris Deschene's name be removed from the ballot and be replaced with Begaye, who finished third in the Aug. 26 primary election.

The order also called for postponing the election for the presidency.

In September, presidential candidate Joe Shirley Jr. announced his running mate as Dineh Benally of Shiprock.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.