Complaints filed against Navajo presidential candidates
Two finalists face allegations from other candidate
- Vincent H. Yazzie claims that Jonathan Nez has a DUI conviction from June 2002.
- Yazzie also asked that Joe Shirley Jr. be disqualified because the tribe has a two-term limit for the presidency.
- The Office of Hearings and Appeals dismissed the complaint against Shirley on Wednesday.
GALLUP — Navajo Nation presidential candidate Jonathan Nez is facing allegations he violated the tribe's election law for failing to list a conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol on his candidate application.
Vincent H. Yazzie, who also ran for president in the primary election last month, claimed in a grievance filed on Sept. 7 in the tribe's Office of Hearings and Appeals that Nez has a DUI conviction from June 2002 in Flagstaff Municipal Court.
Nez and former president Joe Shirley Jr. are listed as the top two finishers in the primary election results certified on Sept. 13 by the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors.
Yazzie filed a separate complaint on Sept. 7 against Shirley. It asks that the Office of Hearings and Appeals disqualify Shirley as a candidate because the tribe has a two-term limit for the presidency.
A hearing for Yazzie and Nez is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 at the Office of Hearings and Appeals in Window Rock, Arizona.
The office did not release documents for both cases until Sept. 13, citing the need to notify all named parties.
Yazzie declined to answer questions regarding his complaints when reached by The Daily Times by telephone on Tuesday. Nez did not respond to a request for comment sent Friday to his campaign.
The Flagstaff Municipal Court and the Flagstaff Justice Court did not locate any records for Nez in a public access search on Friday.
Under the qualifications listed for the president and vice president in the Navajo Election Code, neither can have a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction involving crimes of deceit, untruthfulness or dishonesty within the past five years.
Complaint against Shirley dismissed
The Office of Hearings and Appeals dismissed the complaint against Shirley on Wednesday.
Joe Aguirre, a hearing officer for the agency, wrote in his decision that the grievance should have been filed before the candidate applications were certified on May 31.
The decision also states that Shirley did not violate the election code because the third term he is seeking is not consecutive to the terms he completed from 2003 to 2011.
Although Yazzie cited a provision in tribal law that states, "the president shall serve no more than two terms," the Navajo Nation Supreme Court clarified the statute in a 2010 ruling, Aguirre wrote.
The decision states the high court held that tribal law imposes only consecutive term limits on the incumbent rather than a lifetime limit, and the provision imposes a requirement to wait one term before seeking the president's office again.
Aguirre wrote that the one-term wait for Shirley ended in 2015.
Shirley did not respond to a request for comment made to his campaign on Friday.
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.