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Candidates file for Navajo Nation general election

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Zachariah George files his candidacy paperwork for the vice president seat for Whiterock Chapter on Aug. 10 in Window Rock, Arizona.

WINDOW ROCK, Arizona — Rodger Martinez stood in line to have his photograph taken as a requirement to file his candidacy paperwork for the Nov. 3 general election ballot for the Navajo Nation.

Martinez said he will seek a second term to represent Ramah Chapter on the Eastern Navajo Land Board. He was among dozens of people who confronted long lines and high temperatures to submit the necessary paperwork on Aug. 10.

The tribe's general election will be by plurality vote this year and it will determine chapter presidents, vice presidents and secretary-treasurers and seats for alternative forms of government and memberships on grazing committees, land boards, school boards, farm boards and the election board.

The last day for candidates to file forms was Tuesday, and they could file at the agency election offices in Shiprock and Crownpoint, and in Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock in Arizona.

Omercita Begay, left, and Valerie Yazzie fill out applications on Aug. 10 in Window Rock, Arizona to run for office in the Navajo Nation general election.

The Fort Defiance Agency Election Office in Window Rock accepted applications outside the building that houses the office, which is closed to the public under the tribe's public health emergency orders for the coronavirus.

Some candidates called the setup confusing due to no displays that indicated where to stand for services and the long lines to complete the entire process.

Dave Emerson expressed dissatisfaction with the system, which had candidates doing their best to social distance while listening for instructions from election office staff.

While standing in line to file forms to run for the Bááháálí Chapter government, Emerson said the long wait could have been reduced if the filing process was done using the internet or other technological means.

"It's a problem that needs to be resolved the best way possible," he said.

Colbert Sherman waits to have his portrait taken for the general election ballot for Rock Springs Chapter on Aug. 10 in Window Rock, Arizona.

The wait did not seem to bother Colbert Sherman, who spent time on his smartphone while waiting to file for the vice president seat for Rock Springs Chapter.

Sherman said it was his second time running for office, having previously served as chapter president.

Among his reasons for seeking elected office was his age – he said the younger generation brings new ideas – and because several community members urged him to run.

"I guess they wanted change," Sherman said.

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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