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Nez names longtime business owner as vice president
WINDOW ROCK, Arizona — Navajo Nation presidential candidate Jonathan Nez named a longtime business owner as his running mate, while candidate Joe Shirley Jr. had to rescind his vice presidential nominee due to a technicality.
Both men had announced their running mates in separate events held at noon on Tuesday in Window Rock.
Nez announced Window Rock resident Myron Lizer, who is president of the Navajo Westerners Ace Hardware stores and lumberyards, as his vice presidential candidate.
Shirley, who finished behind Nez in the Aug. 28 primary election, had named Farmington resident Peter Deswood III as his running mate, but Patrick Sandoval, Shirley's campaign manager, said the campaign found out late Tuesday that Deswood was not qualified for the position.
Deswood is not a registered Navajo Nation voter due to a voter registration purge conducted prior to the election, Sandoval said.
In January, the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors cancelled voter registrations for more than 52,000 tribal members who did not vote consecutively in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
Alray Nelson, an adviser for the campaign, said Shirley selected Buu Nygren for the vice presidency Tuesday evening.
Nygren, 31, is from Red Mesa, Utah and the campaign is finalizing details for an event to introduce him to voters on Wednesday in Shiprock, Nelson said.
During the announcement for the Nez campaign, Lizer stood alongside his wife, Dottie.
Before providing some information about himself, Lizer, 53, commended his wife for providing guidance and support.
"She's going to be by my side. She encourages me when all seems lost," he said.
Lizer said his experience in business – in some shape or form – on the Navajo Nation goes back 47 years.
"It's a long time. We've had our wins, we've had our victories and we've had our losses in those battles, but the war is still going on," Lizer said about navigating the processes to establish and operate small businesses.
Among his advocacy work for business development, he founded the Window Rock chapter for the U.S Junior Chamber of Commerce and continues to provide financial literacy training to entrepreneurs.
Lizer was born in Ganado but raised in Fort Defiance, both in Arizona.
He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and worked as an accountant for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe prior to returning to the Navajo Nation.
Lizer is Comanche and born for Tó'áhani (Near the Water Clan).
That business experience and financial background is one reason Nez selected Lizer.
"He's always challenged us leaders to do better. …I always thought he knows what it takes to recommend change of policies, change of laws and be that great advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs on the Navajo Nation," Nez said.
Those ideas are needed for business opportunities to flourish on the tribal land, he said then added Lizer instills hope in people, especially those seeking second chances, through employment at his businesses.
Phefelia Herbert-Nez, Nez's wife, added Lizer has strong family values and commitment to faith.
"That's very important to us and that's what we wanted to have in a running mate. For them to have that stable family and a strong foundation," Herbert-Nez said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.