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News Release

Buu Nygren for Navajo Nation President 

I want to again express my appreciation to the four women presidential candidates — Ethel Branch, Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch, Emily Ellison and Frankie Davis — who successfully pressed the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors to conduct a recount of the primary election.

lthough the recount has not changed the outcome of the election and we need to move ahead, it shined a much-needed spotlight on what is wrong — not just in our election process but throughout our Navajo Nation government.

I thought of this last week with the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. When asked by a reporter what led to the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union, he summed it up simply as “bureaucratic inefficiency.”

Without singling out any of our many tribal divisions or our devoted tribal employees, almost every Navajo citizen who has ever sought service from our Navajo Nation government over decades has run straight into our own tribal bureaucratic inefficiency. Now through the reporting on this recount, we learn how it is affecting our most fundamental right — to choose our leaders with trust and confidence.

Pictured: Buu Nygren, candidate for Navajo Nation President.

Pictured: Buu Nygren, candidate for Navajo Nation President.

The last time the Navajo government saw a big operational change was in the 1980s with the creation of Title Two. Navajo voters have waited since then to ratify that through an election, and are still waiting.

Through this recent recount, we learned that our voting machines were purchased in the 1980s. The justification for now replacing them is, figuratively speaking because the mileage on them is low.

However, who among us is still using the cell phone or laptops or other electronic devices we bought in the 1980s? If you’re too young to know, and most of our Navajo voters today are, cell phones didn’t exist in the 1980s. The laptop most people used in the 1980s was the Radio Shack TRS-80 — and Radio Shack doesn’t exist anymore. The 1980s don’t exist anymore and neither should voting machines from that era. Yet here they are, like old cement sheep dips on the Navajo Nation.

You are probably reading this on your phone. The lesson here is it is high time the Navajo Nation replace its old, outdated, aging voting machines with new ones — whether they’re accurate or not. It’s time. At the very least it would be a technological step to help rebuild voters’ trust in their Navajo elections — and we have these brave women to thank for being among the first to say so.

That’s just the start. Huge systemic change can’t and doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with a Why and is followed by a How. This principle desperately needs to be applied to our entire Navajo governmental system.

From the beginning of this campaign, I have said this is what I seek. Billions of federal dollars are flowing into the Navajo Nation right now and we are still at the level of connecting electricity to Navajo homes. That’s something that happened in the United States in the 1930s. The West’s water is drying up and Navajo is still seeking rights to the Colorado River.

A huge part of the problems that keep jobs away from the Navajo Nation and send our children away to places where those jobs are is our own bureaucratic inefficiency. I do not want to see what happened to the Soviet Union happen to the Navajo Nation. If we don’t do something immediately after the general election, what else can happen?

Our grandparents have always told us it is up to us. They said it takes more than just a dream, which is what all campaigns are built on. A dream takes commitment tempered by discipline, consistency and measurement over time. That tells you if and when you need to change course by a few degrees to reach that goal.

Many little things were discovered that operated wrong in the primary election. Not enough to change the outcome but plenty to undermine the trust the public has in our Navajo elections. That needs to change — from old equipment to short tempers. Citizens are allowed to hold their government accountable. Government should respond positively.

Every candidate urges the public to register to vote and to get out to vote on Tuesday, November 8th. If we didn’t vote, we would not get elected. So I encourage you to, as well. If you like the direction our Navajo government is going, vote for the ‘Status Quo’ and how it responds to our many problems.

Or if you would like, participate through your vote, in the ‘Fresh Change’ that will make our government more efficient through each of its divisions, operational structure and continual training of staff. This is the opportunity presenting itself.

We are not in the 1980s. We are in the 2020s. Our government, knowledge, tools, techniques and imagination need to reflect that. 

Buu Nygren for Navajo Nation President, Nygren and Montoya for President & Vice President - logo
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