Incumbent Wallace Charley beaten in four-person primary

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FARMINGTON — GloJean Todacheene is one step closer to returning to the San Juan County Commission District 1 seat after finishing first Tuesday in a Democratic primary field that consisted of three other candidates.

Todacheene received 619 votes, followed by incumbent Wallace Charley with 495 votes. Wetona Becenti received 311 votes, and Zachariah George had 294 votes, according to unofficial results released by the San Juan County Clerk's Office.

Charley had been seeking a fourth term as commissioner. He did not respond to a request for comment today.

Todacheene maintained a steady lead over Charley throughout Tuesday evening.

Results for Becenti and George remained close, but Becenti eventually secured third place after 9 p.m.

Todacheene said Tuesday night she looks forward to working with leaders in the county as well as at the chapters and in tribal government.

She previously had served two four-year terms as a county commissioner but could not run in 2014 due to term limits. Commissioners can only serve two consecutive terms.

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Her political service also includes one term representing the Shiprock Chapter on the Navajo Nation Council.

An issue she sees the county facing is opportunities for employment.

"I know where we can make laws and regulations better for small businesses. It's important. …It helps grow the economy," Todacheene said.

Despite the loss, George said he is grateful to have shared the campaign trail with Todacheene, Charley and Becenti.

"It didn't feel like a competition," George said, adding he received encouragement and support from the three other candidates.

This was not George's first run for political office at the county level. He ran for county clerk on the Democratic ticket in 2016, losing to Republican Tanya Shelby.

George said he continues to learn that politics involves name recognition, and he remains committed to public service.

"I'm not stopping here," he said.

This was Becenti's first time running for political office, an experience that she said will help her as she continues as a program supervisor for the Office of Diné Youth in Shiprock.

Becenti has developed connections to chapters in the Northern Agency through her work, but she said the campaign heightened her knowledge about community issues.

"Professionally, it helps me. …It's intriguing to know what's out there and what the needs are," she said.

She congratulated Todacheene on Tuesday night.

"I think she'll do very well with her experience and knowledge," Becenti said.

There were no Republican or Libertarian candidates running for the District 1 seat, which consists of a portion of Kirtland and the western and southern sections of the county.

Todacheene could run unopposed for the general election on Nov. 6 if no independent, write-in or minor-party candidates file candidacy paperwork on June 28.

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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