LEUPP, Ariz. - With a surprisingly large margin of voter turnout, somewhat unusual for a Navajo Chapter Primary election, the majority of Leupp community members chose to vote for new candidates. The margin of loss ranged from 20 to 60 votes indicating that voters want a change.
The unofficial tallies were: Leupp Chapter President: Thomas Cody (152), Priscilla Franklin (173); Leupp Chapter Vice President: Ellen Billie Branch (184), Lorrain Noline (139); Leupp Chapter Secretary/Treasurer: Rosita Kelly (131), Leota Begay (190); and Leupp Schools, Inc. (LSI) School Board: Thomas Cody (141), Lela Zilth (132), Clara Tsosie (201), Calvin Johnson write-in (71)
For the past few years a division of the Leupp community evolved through disagreements regarding community development. Mostly, this development threatened landowners, livestock owners, and grazing permit holders. It even challenged the traditional lifestyle of the Diné. Traditionalists and those choosing to live close to the land and the environment felt threatened by the outside economy of capitalism. Feeling the need for change in implementing plans to benefit the whole community and retain the Diné lifestyle, various members of the community stepped forward to run for office.
The platform of the new candidates was working toward a mediation to benefit the community and a common theme of "Unity lies within the strength of a community."
"I am pushing for better policies at the school, that way our children get the best education." said Lela Zilth (LSI school board candidate), "We need our students to respect their elders and understand why they think the way they do, why tradition is important. At the same time we need them to be able to meet the challenges that the economy is pushing on them."
Ellen Branch (vice presidential candidate) thanked the community members, stating, "Getting the people involved is the key to a better community. The Aug. 23 rally at Raymond Phelps' residence would be a good opportunity for undecided voters to listen to our platform."
Furthermore, chapter president hopeful Priscilla Franklin stated, "This is just the beginning of our work and we look forward to getting some of the issues facing our community addressed if we get elected Nov. 5. We will continue to listen to your concerns and work on a positive change for our community."
"The turnout was great," said Calvin Johnson, a write-in candidate for the LSI school board. "I heard someone say we are ... making history here. I appreciate the young voters coming out today and voting. I also want to thank the voters for a good turnout today. That shows they want change. There are some people who didn't get a chance to vote [and] I hope they can come to better understand us and voice their concerns."
The next Need for Change rally is scheduled for Aug. 23 at Raymond and Elsie Phelps' residence (two miles north of mile post 1 on Highway 15 - Leupp Road) at 9 a.m. (MST).
For more information contact Calvin Johnson at (928) 814-1475.