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17 Candidates Vying for Navajo Nation Presidency

Navajo President Ben Shelly will face 16 opponents, including his former boss, in his bid for a second term.

Navajo President Ben Shelly will face 16 opponents, including his former boss, in his bid for a second term.

The race to become the Navajo Nation’s next president features a mix of lawmakers, former tribal officials and political newcomers. Among the 17 candidates who met the May 28 filing deadline – and paid a total of $25,500 in filing fees – are the tribe’s only two-term president, two Navajo Council delegates and one woman.

Nine of the candidates are from the Arizona portion of the reservation, seven are from New Mexico and one is from Utah.

The Navajo Election Administration on June 4 certified all the candidates to run for office. The primary election is set for August 26. Voters will choose two candidates to move on to the November 4 general election.

Here are the candidates, in alphabetical order:

Edison “Chip” Begay is a resident of Tohatchi, New Mexico.

Russell Begaye, of Shiprock, New Mexico, has served as the Shiprock delegate to the Navajo Council since January 2011. A career businessman, Begaye is running on one platform: Unity. “We must all work together, the Navajo Nation Council, the Navajo Nation president and all 110 chapters,” he said.

Donald Benally, of Shiprock, is a career politician who has served as a Navajo Council delegate and vice president of the Shiprock Chapter. One of 12 presidential candidates during the 2010 race, Benally came in third. If elected, he wants to “build a greater Navajo Nation of today, tomorrow and beyond.

Moroni Benally, of Tolikan, Arizona, is working on a Ph.D. in public policy and management from the University of Washington. If elected, he promises to take control of the tribe’s destiny and focus on real people.

Chris Deschene, an attorney from Lechee, Arizona, is campaigning for a new generation of leadership. “We are a proud Nation; strong and fiercely independent,” he said. “Our new leaders must have the strength, experience and courage to decisively take action for our people.”

Kee Yazzie Mann, of Kaibeto, Arizona, is a former Navajo Council delegate.

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Carrie Lynn Martin, of Bodaway/Gap, Arizona, is the sole female contender in the race.

Kenneth Maryboy, of Mexican Water, Utah, is a Navajo Council delegate and commissioner for San Juan County, Utah. If elected, he will be the first Navajo president from Utah.

Myron McLaughlin, of Chinle, Arizona, is running on a platform of cultural values and honesty. “I am ready to restore, repair and redirect our Navajo Nation government to a respectful government,” he said.

Cal Nez is a businessman from Tse alnaozt’i’, New Mexico.

Ben Shelly, of Thoreau, New Mexico, is the incumbent. He wants a second term to finish what he started. “It takes tough leadership to face the tough challenges,” he said.

Joe Shirley Jr., of Chinle, Arizona, served as the tribe’s only two-term president from 2003 to 2011. If granted a third term, he promises to serve with “heart, integrity, diplomacy and sacredness of mind.”

Dan Smith is a resident of Shiprock, New Mexico.

Dale E. Tsosie, of LeChee, Arizona, calls himself “a leader for real change.”

Edison Wauneka, of Oak Springs, Arizona, is executive director of the Navajo Election Administration. If elected, he promises to “rebuild a strong Navajo Nation that enjoys the support of the Navajo people.”

Hank Whitethorne is a resident of Shonto, Arizona.

Duane “Chili” Yazzie, of Shiprock, New Mexico, is serving in his third term as president of the Shiprock Chapter. He promises a “down-home, homemade, grassroots, Hogan-level campaign.”