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FARMINGTON — Naschitti Chapter member Steven Begay has been elected today to represent five chapters on the Navajo Nation.

According to the unofficial results released late this evening, Begay received 731 of the 2,534 total ballots cast from the five chapters.

Coyote Canyon Chapter member Theresa A. Becenti-Aguilar finished second with 564 votes, followed by Tohatchi Chapter member Nathan L. Notah receiving 344 votes.

Voters cast ballots after chapter precincts opened at 6 a.m. in Bahastl’ah, Coyote Canyon, Mexican Springs, Naschitti and Tohatchi chapters.

The seat on the Navajo Nation Council was declared vacant after former Delegate Mel R. Begay was found guilty in March of 10 counts of misusing a financial assistance program designed to help tribal members with financial emergencies.

The unofficial results also show Anthony K. Howard receiving 141 votes; Ansley L. Curley receiving 128 votes; Brent A. Detsoi receiving 119 votes; Harrison Plummer with 103 votes; Willis Nez receiving 92 votes; Edison A. Begay Jr. receiving 78 votes; Elvis Bitsilly receiving 75 votes; Bob Begaye receiving 71 votes; Karen E. Bedonie receiving 60 votes; and Tom Ranger receiving 28 votes.

A number of candidates set up tents and were serving food outside the gate of the Coyote Canyon Chapter house this afternoon.

Among those who made the trip to vote at Coyote Canyon were sisters Donna Williams and Diana M. Yazzie-Nez.

The sisters met in Gallup, where Yazzie-Nez lives, then drove to the chapter house.

With a crowded field of candidates, Williams said it was not easy to select one.

Williams, who traveled from Upper Fruitland where she lives, declined to name her candidate but described the individual as "very intelligent and very influential."

Yazzie-Nez said she voted because she desires change.

After years of watching family members submit requests for help from the chapter with no results, Yazzie-Nez hopes the new delegate works to help chapter members.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.

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