GOP opens satellite office in Shiprock
FARMINGTON — A satellite office of the San Juan County Republican Party has opened in Shiprock.
Shiprock Chapter member Vern Lee has been overseeing the location since it opened two weeks ago in the Kirk Center on the south side of U.S. Highway 64 next to a 7-2-11 Food Store.
Interest in the office and the number of visitors has increased since its opening, Lee said.
There were 70,665 registered voters in San Juan County as of Sept. 30, according to statistics report by the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office. The report showed there were 31,966 registered Republicans and 21,996 registered Democrats.
There were 16,703 voters who had not selected a party affiliation or who are members of other parties, according to the report.
Materials available at the Shiprock office include yard signs, posters, buttons and stickers for Republican candidates.
The office has material for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, District 4 state House of Representatives candidate Sharon Clahchischilliage, New Mexico Supreme Court candidate Judith Nakamura and District Judge Division 5 candidate Lyndy Bennett.
"The office also serves as an educational tool for Navajos," Lee said, explaining that one individual visited the office because the person wanted to find out about the party’s platform.
So far, he has responded to questions about early voting, voter registration and changing party affiliation.
"The main thing is for people to get out and vote," Lee said.
He has also listened to concerns from Navajos about employment, job creation and energy development. In those types of conversations, Lee said he explains the position of the GOP.
"I want them to understand why they need to vote Republican," he said.
Lee said he was a Democratic voter but joined the Republican Party after researching its platform and concluding that its principals and policies reflect traditional Navajo teachings.
Another benefit to having the office located in Shiprock is sharing the party’s message in the Navajo language, he added.
The Republican Party’s county headquarters is located at 1819 E. 20th St. in Farmington.
Sean Sharer, chairman of the San Juan County Republican Party, said the party's county officials saw the need to open the satellite office because volunteers have been receiving numerous inquiries from Navajo voters about Republican candidates.
"I think it's been a success," Sharer said.
Lee volunteers his time to operate the office, which is open from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays, but he is looking for more volunteers. To help at the office, call Lee at 505-635-3249 or contact him through his Facebook page.
Henry Silentman, chairman of the Democratic Party of San Juan County, said the party has thought about opening a location in Shiprock. In the meantime, voters may continue to visit the party’s county headquarters at 719 W. Main St. in Farmington, Silentman said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.