Independent, write-in candidates filed candidacy paperwork

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FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates has filed candidacy paperwork to challenge former Commissioner Ervin Chavez and Bloomfield-area resident Michael Sullivan for the San Juan County Commission District 2 seat.

Bates was among more than a dozen independent, minor-party and write-in candidates statewide who filed candidacy paperwork today for local offices. He will run as an independent candidate. A full list of candidates in the November general election can be found at NMVote.org.

While former Bloomfield police Chief Michael Kovacs had announced plans to run as an independent candidate for San Juan County sheriff, he did not file paperwork by the 5 p.m. deadline today.

The secretary state and county clerk will certify qualified candidates by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

This year's race closely resembles the 2006 election when Bates filed as an independent candidate after Chavez won the Democratic Party primary election. Chavez defeated Bates in the 2006 election.

Unlike the 2006 election, Sullivan, a Republican candidate, will challenge Bates and Chavez. Chavez was unopposed in the Democratic Party primary.

The current commissioner representing District 2 is Margaret McDaniel. She has reached term limits and cannot run for re-election this year.

District 2 represents the southeast portion of the county and includes Bloomfield, Navajo Dam, Nageezi, the Morgan Lake area and Lee Acres.

In another throwback to the 2006 election, GloJean Todacheene will face Pete K. Atcitty in the County Commission District 1 race. District 1 encompasses western San Juan County. Todacheene defeated incumbent District 1 Commissioner Wallace Charley in the Democratic Party primary earlier this month.

Atcitty filed his paperwork today to run as a write-in candidate. Names of write-in candidates are not printed on the ballot. Unlike independent and minor-party candidates, write-in candidates are not required to submit nominating petitions.

Atcitty ran as a Republican against Todacheene, a Democrat, in 2006.

He is a former Navajo Nation Council delegate from Shiprock and serves as chief of staff for the Navajo Nation Legislative Branch. Bates appointed Atcitty to the position in 2016.

Disqualified judge candidate files as a write-in candidate

Sarah Weaver, who was disqualified from running as a Republican in the election, will run as a write-in candidate.

Weaver was disqualified in April because her nominating petition forms did not include the division number for the position she hopes to represent. She was appointed to the Division 3 district judge for the 11th Judicial District seat in February by Gov. Susana Martinez.

An independent candidate, Farmington-area lawyer James Corey Stackhouse, has filed for the Division 3 seat.

In another judicial race, Stanley R. King, who served as the San Juan County magistrate judge for Division 2 from 2010 until 2014, filed to run as an independent candidate against incumbent Rena Scott. King ran as a Democrat in 2010.

Scott is a Republican who was elected to the position in 2014 after King chose not to run for re-election.

Group pushes for more independent candidates

The nonprofit group Unite New Mexico has focused on helping independent candidates get on the ballot.

“It’s important because New Mexico has the greatest number of elections that are not competitive in the nation,” said former state legislator Bob Perls, the co-chair of Unite New Mexico.

Perls said having more contested races would increase voter turnout.

“If you don’t give people a choice, they don’t come and vote,” Perls said.

Among the candidates who has worked with Unite New Mexico is independent candidate T. Tweeti Blancett. She is running for state House District 40, which includes Eagles Nest and Mora.

Blancett formerly represented state House District 3, which includes Aztec. She was elected to the District 3 seat as a Republican candidate while also serving as Aztec's city manager in 1984, according to The Daily Times archives. She owns the Step Back Inn in Aztec.

Blancett filed her candidacy using the address of property she owns in Eagles Nest. Perls explained Blancett is registered to vote in Eagles Nest.

Blancett will challenge Democratic Party candidate Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde for the seat.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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