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FARMINGTON — Both newly elected San Juan County commissioners say roads and bridges need to be addressed in the upcoming years.

Former commissioners GloJean Todacheene and Michael Sullivan will be returning to the County Commission in January to represent Districts 1 and 2 respectively.

Tuesday's election results will not change the partisan composition of the County Commission, as Todacheene, a Democrat, will be replacing Democrat Wallace Charley, and Sullivan will replace Republican Margaret McDaniel.

Todacheene defeated Charley in the Democratic Party primary election, and McDaniel has reached term limits of two consecutive terms.

Todacheene represented District 1 from 2006 until 2014, and Sullivan represented District 2 from 1986 until 1990, when he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Ervin Chavez.

In 1990 election rematch, Sullivan claims District 2 commission seat

When reached by phone Tuesday, Sullivan said one of the reasons he chose to enter the race was because he knew Chavez would be running for another term on the County Commission, and he wanted to give voters a choice.

Sullivan defeated Chavez by nearly 1,000 votes while independent candidate LoRenzo Bates came in third.

Unofficial results released early today showed Sullivan receiving 3,051 votes compared to Chavez's 2,081 votes and Bates' 1,073 votes.

“I’m thrilled that the people in the county entrusted the county's duties to me, but at the same time, there’s a lot of work to do,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan hopes to continue the focus on water that he had when he was a county commissioner about 30 years ago. He said water will be an important issue in the upcoming years, especially for irrigators who rely on the water for crop production.

In addition to water, Sullivan said job loss is one of the issues the county will grapple with in the upcoming years, especially in light of the pending closure of the San Juan Generating Station.

Sullivan said road and bridge infrastructure, especially in the southern part of the county, also needs attention.

Todacheene returns after four-year hiatus

Todacheene is no stranger to the world of politics. In addition to serving on the County Commission for two terms, she also has served as a Navajo Nation Council delegate representing Shiprock.

She faced a write-in candidate, Republican Pete K. Atcitty III, in the election. Unofficial results show that 466 people had written in a candidate’s name for County Commissioner District 1 while unofficial results showed Todacheene with more than 5,352 votes.

Todacheene anticipated her record and her background as an educator would help her win voters during the election. She said it is an honor to work for the people who voted for her.

“To be a leader, you have to have people who support you,” she said.

In addition to being the first Navajo woman to serve on the County Commission, she remains the only woman to have represented District 1, according to The Daily Times archives.

She said the county has a lot of challenges facing it in the future that she plans to work on. She said people are still concerned about the impacts of the Gold King Mine spill on the Animas and San Juan rivers, as well as the wastewater spill from an extraction well site in Colorado this weekend. Todacheene said contamination of the Animas River impacts the irrigation water farmers rely upon.

In addition, Todacheene said she will focus on infrastructure.

“We’re due for a lot of fixing of roads and fixing of bridges, sewer and water systems,” she said.

Todacheene said the county is also concerned about job loss, especially in light of the pending closure of the San Juan Generating Station.

“We need some big employer out here,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4642 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.
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