Candidates being interviewed for administration positions

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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — As details are released about the inauguration for Navajo Nation President-elect Jonathan Nez, Vice President-elect Myron Lizer and other elected officials, the two incoming leaders are reflecting on their success and working to piece together an administration.

"Every inauguration is different. I think for this one, it's exciting. The momentum is there," Nez said in an interview on Thursday in Window Rock, Arizona.

Nez's ascent to the presidency caps a political career that started with him serving as vice president for the Shonto Chapter in Arizona, earning a seat on the Navajo County Board of Supervisors and being elected to three terms on the Navajo Nation Council.

As for Lizer, taking the oath of office will complete his transition from the private sector to a place in the political spotlight.

"It's new, but just like anything, you put your best foot forward and you lead yourself toward the process," Lizer said on Thursday.

As part of his shift, Lizer resigned in December as president of the Navajo Westerners Ace Hardware stores and lumberyards, which he has owned and operated for several years.

The two men have been interviewing candidates for administration cabinet posts and expect to announce their appointees soon.

"Our goal is to get all our political appointees in place," Nez said. "Hit the ground running, is what we've been campaigning on."

The incoming administration also will review initiatives launched by the outgoing Russell Begaye administration, to determine which of those will continue and which need re-evaluation, he said.

Nez also wants his administration to communicate and listen to members of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, who will be sworn in on Tuesday, as well.

During the campaign, Nez and Lizer listened to people's concerns about issues ranging from behavioral health services and housing to roads and more control over natural resources. Those are among the issues the administration looks forward to addressing, Nez said.

"We're up for the challenge," Nez said.

Formalities will surround Tuesday's ceremony with the addition of inaugural addresses by Nez's wife, Phefelia Herbert-Nez, and by Lizer's wife, Dottie Lizer.

The inclusion of the incoming first and second ladies is a first for an inauguration and demonstrates the administration's focus on families, Nez said.

Lizer added both women provided "outstanding support" to the campaign by attending meetings and interacting with constituents.

"They're in this, too," he said.

Fort Defiance, Ariz., hosts inauguration

Radio broadcaster L.A. Williams and former council delegate Leonard Chee will serve as the masters of ceremony when the event starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Bee Hółdzil Fighting Scouts Events Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona.

The inauguration is open to the public, and the doors open at 7 a.m.

The Tohatchi Veterans Organization and the JROTC teams from Tohatchi and Piñon high schools will post the colors at the start of the ceremony.

More: Navajo Nation voters elect Jonathan Nez tribal president

Council delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty will give the invocation, and council delegate Tom Chee will give the welcome address.

Nez, Lizer and members of the 24th Navajo Nation Council will be sworn in by Navajo Nation Supreme Court Chief Justice JoAnn B. Jayne at noon.

Associate Justice Eleanor Shirley will administer the oath of office to the members of the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors, the Navajo Board of Education and the Kayenta Township Commissioners.

The new council will consist of incumbents and new members.

Returning to the council are Kee Allen Begay Jr., Nelson S. BeGaye, Nathaniel Brown, Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Seth Damon, Herman M. Daniels, Raymond Smith Jr., Otto Tso and Edmund Yazzie.

New members are Elmer P. Begay, Paul Begay, Eugenia Charles-Newton, Mark A. Freeland, Pernell Halona, Jamie Henio, Vince James, Rickie Nez, Wilson C. Stewart Jr., Charlaine Tso, Daniel E. Tso, Eugene Tso, Thomas Walker Jr., Edison J. Wauneka and Jimmy Yellowhair.

The ceremony will be streamed live at ustream.tv/channel/navajo-nation-council.

An inaugural reception featuring music performances by Levi Platero, Adero, The Good Ol' Boys, Sunburnt Stone and Cornerstone is set for 6 p.m. at the Bee Hółdzil Fighting Scouts Events Center in Fort Defiance.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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