Complaint filed to remove tribal school board member from office
Temara Lewis-Emerson did not list alcohol-related convictions on her paperwork
FARMINGTON — The Department of Diné Education has filed a complaint with the Navajo Election Administration to remove a Sanostee Day School board member from her seat after she failed to list two alcohol-related convictions on her candidacy paperwork.
She also is facing a warrant that was issued for her failing to appear at a court hearing on a September DWI charge in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court this week.
Temara Lewis-Emerson was convicted in Farmington Magistrate Court on April 4, 2013, of a misdemeanor count of driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to court records and documents.
She was arrested on Jan. 25, 2013, by a Farmington police officer during a traffic stop at the intersection of Andrea Drive and the Bloomfield Highway, according to the probable cause statement.
Lewis-Emerson registered a 0.14 blood-alcohol content on a breath test, records state. The legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in New Mexico is a 0.08 blood-alcohol content.
Attempts to contact Lewis-Emerson were unsuccessful.
Andrew Deschene, Sanostee Day School acting principal, declined comment and stated he has not received any paperwork from the tribal election office.
During the 2016 Navajo Nation general election, Lewis-Emerson was elected to the Tsé Alnaozt'i'í (Sanostee) Chapter secretary/treasurer position and the Sanostee Day School board, according to Navajo Election Administration website.
Matthew Tso, legislative analyst for the Department of Diné Education, said the department filed a complaint with the Navajo Election Administration dated Thursday to remove Lewis-Emerson from her Sanostee school board seat and prohibit her from holding any other elected Navajo Nation office for eight years.
That includes her position as secretary/treasurer for the Sanostee Chapter.
The candidate qualifications for a Navajo Nation school board seat state a candidate cannot have any convictions of misdemeanor crimes for several crimes, including "use of intoxicating alcohol or illegal substance abuse."
The election code also has a lifetime ban for anyone running for a Navajo Nation school board position who has a drug or alcohol-related conviction.
This is Lewis-Emerson's second conviction of an alcohol-related offense.
Tso said Lewis-Emerson has a May 14, 2008, conviction of a misdemeanor charge of possession of alcoholic beverages by a minor in Chama Magistrate Court.
A Tamera S. Lewis is listed on the court case, according to court records.
The pending case in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court stems from a New Mexico State Police officer arresting Lewis-Emerson in the early morning of Sept. 16 in Albuquerque, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.
She is accused of five charges, including aggravated DWI, speeding, failure to maintain traffic lane, an open container of alcohol and driving with a suspended license.
The vehicle driven by Lewis-Emerson allegedly was observed by the officer drifting and failing to stay in a traffic lane and driving 12 miles faster than the speed limit.
During the traffic stop, the officer observed Lewis-Emerson having bloodshot and watery eyes, and slurred speech, and he detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage.
She was arrested after the State Police officer determined she was unable to operate a motor vehicle.
Court records show Lewis-Emerson failed to appear at a bond arraignment scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court. A failure to appear warrant has been issued for Lewis-Emerson.
Frank Smith, the Sanostee Chapter president, said he was aware of Lewis-Emerson's DWI conviction and was concerned by that and by the ongoing DWI case. He also said he was concerned about her actions, given that she is a community leader and a chapter official.
Smith was removed from his seat on the Shiprock Associated Schools Inc. Board of Education and from the Aug. 30, 2016, Navajo Nation primary election after he failed to disclose a 1988 DWI conviction on his school board candidacy paperwork.
He was listed on the primary election ballot as a candidate for the Tsé Alnaozt'i'í Chapter president position.
Smith appealed the decision to the Navajo Nation Office of Hearing and Appeals, and a hearing officer ruled Smith could run as a candidate for the Tsé Alnaozt'i'í Chapter president position during a special election on Dec. 13, which he won.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.