Begaye commends Navajo voters over election outcome
Proposal defeated by better than a 3-1 margin
FARMINGTON — A proposal to address road improvements on the Navajo Nation by using $216 million from the Permanent Trust Fund principal was rejected by voters by a wide margin Tuesday.
The unofficial results from the referendum showed that 4,277 ballots were cast in favor and 14,983 ballots were cast against the measure, according to the Navajo Election Administration.
In the Northern Agency, 3,544 people cast ballots in the election out of 26,763 registered voters, the election administration reported.
The nationwide voter participation was 14 percent, according to the election administration.
Navajo Nation leaders reacted to the election outcome in press releases.
Tribal President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez commended the outcome and voters for protecting the tribe's future.
"The PTF is not a set-aside for tomorrow, and it never has been. It is for the Navajo Nation to fall back on when we really need it. The money from the PTF provides financial stability," they said.
They said taking away that amount from the principal would have eliminated money from the trust's interest, which is "an essential part" of a five-year plan to build water lines to homes and businesses.
In April 2016, the tribal council and the president approved the five-year plan to disburse $150 million from the trust's interest for projects centering on water, economic development and agriculture.
The move also would have affected the tribe's credit rating, the release states.
Speaker LoRenzo Bates said the council respects the results from the election.
"It is now time for the nation's leadership to regroup, and move forward together and continue putting forth initiatives that strengthen our nation's infrastructure," Bates said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.