Indian Country Today
Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, Diné, will serve as a state representative for Arizona’s district seven, filling a pivotal vacant seat in the state’s Legislature.
The Apache County Board of Supervisors selected her for the position at a special meeting Tuesday to fill the vacancy left by former state Rep. Arlando Teller, Diné, who resigned last month to accept a position in the Biden administration.
The new legislator will be sworn in on Thursday morning at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix.
Blackwater-Nygren, 25, received her law degree from Arizona State University and passed the Arizona bar exam last year. She is also a graduate of Stanford University.
“I thank the Apache County Board of Supervisors for entrusting me with this duty," Blackwater-Nygren said. "I’m really excited to work with everybody in this district. I’m ready to get to work and will do my best to represent all people of Arizona’s Legislative District 7."
Blackwater-Nygren will serve in the position until 2022, and will serve alongside fellow Democratic state Rep. Myron Tsosie. This district hosts two representatives.
Arizona’s 7th district spans a large portion of the state and includes the Navajo Nation, Hopi and the White Mountain Apache Tribes.
The district is made up of Apache, Coconino and Navajo counties-- two of which voted in large part for President Joe Biden, ultimately flipping the state blue and securing his presidential victory.
Leaders praised the selection including the chair of the Apache County Democrats Priscilla Weaver, Diné.
"We had three excellent candidates and we will look forward to working with Jasmine," Weaver said.
Apache County has not released the names of the two other individuals who were being considered for the position.
"We are pleased to see the seat held by a member of the Navajo Nation maintained with this appointment, but we also know Mrs. Blackwater-Nygren will work to serve the entire district," said Navajo Nation Speaker of the Council Seth Damon in a statement.
Blackwater-Nygren says she plans to uphold the Democratic party’s values by working to strengthen voting rights for Native communities, and increasing access to quality healthcare and education.
The board of supervisors was formally tasked with filling Teller’s vacancy. The board consists of three individuals including former Navajo Nation president Joe Shirley, Alton Joe Shepherd and Nelson Davis.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the board considered three names recommended by a citizen’s panel. All three candidates who were being considered attend the in-person session held in St. John's, Arizona.
The Arizona Legislature’s 2021 session is currently underway. It began in early January with a top task of passing a state budget that includes coronavirus relief funds, among other priorities.
Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Feb. 10: This story was updated to include information about Blackwater-Nygren's swearing in ceremony
Feb. 9: This story was updated to include a follow-up interview with Blackwater-Nygren