KYKOTSMOVI -- Ivan Sidney wants to focus the next four years on elders, the youth and education. But Sidney sees open government and listening to all of the Hopi and Tewa people as key to the people's success.
Sidney, who ran as the people's candidate for open government, swept into office as Hopi chairman by handily beating incumbent Wayne Taylor Jr. in the Nov. 16 general election.
Sidney, who served as chairman from 1981-89, won with 1,034 votes while Taylor received 581 votes. Sidney won 64-36 percent.
Todd Honyaoma Sr. also had a landslide victory against Phillip Quochwytewa Sr. for the vice chairman's seat. Honyaoma grabbed 966 votes to 661 for Quochwytewa. Honyaoma won 59-41 percent.
Of the 8,846 eligible voters, 1,639 cast their ballots. Sidney and Honyaoma each won in each of the nine voting precincts as well as getting the most amount of votes in the absentee ballots as well.
Sidney said the vote was moving and overwhelming.
"I will do my best to be the servant of the people because I am not above anybody else," he said.
Sidney said the size of the victory shows that across-the-board that Hopi people want change.
"I am not surprised by the victory, but I am overwhelmed by the amount of the victory," he said.
Sidney noted that Chairman Taylor called him, congratulated him for his hard work and told him that he looks forward to helping him with a smooth transition.
Sidney said people have spoken and the cry he heard the most was about the chairman and tribal council's lack of reporting to the villages.
"I will start by scheduling meetings in the villages and by listening. I will report to and visit the villages as soon as possible," he said. "I'll see how people want us to address the issues. The solutions are best when they come from the people."
Sidney added he will use newspapers, radio stations and post information in the villages so people will be well informed.
Sidney said he looks forward to working with the Hopi Tribal Council. He said he plans to stay on the Hopi Reservation as much as possible and use the vice chairman to assist him, as he will send the vice chairman off the reservation to meet with outside officials when necessary. He said the chairman should stay on the reservation as much as possible in order to remain in touch with the Hopi and Tewa people.
Sidney said his top three issues are:
• Listening and reporting to the people.
• Stimulating the economy.
• Putting trust back into the tribal government.
Sidney will be sworn into office Dec. 1 with the planned inaugural at Hopi Jr/Sr High School. He said the ceremony needs to be done as quickly as possible because December is a sacred month to the Hopi and "we need to respect that."
Sidney said two great men ran for vice chairman.
"I have great respect for Phillip, but Todd did a good job in the campaign and he's going to be my right arm," he said.
Taylor said he congratulated Sidney on his victory.
"I'm confident he'll do a good job and I respect the decision of the Hopi people," he said.
Taylor repeated that he will help Sidney so the incoming administration will have a smooth transition. He said during his 12 years as chairman and vice chairman that he accomplished a great deal with the help of many hard working people.
"The people were wonderful and I was proud to work with them," he said. "I thank the Hopi people for giving me the honor and privilege to serve."
Taylor said he will take a "time out" to spend time with his family, especially his mother Amelia Taylor, who is in poor health.
New Vice Chair
Honyaoma said he felt great about winning the vice chairman's seat. While he expected to win, he said he was surprised that he won each village precinct as well as the majority of the absentee voters.
"It shows that people want change," he said.
Honyaoma, who also criticized the chairman and council for lack of reporting to villages, said his emphasis of open government was the key to his victory.
Honyaoma said he will report to the villages, but he will also use the newspapers, radio stations and word of mouth to inform people about Hopi issues.
Honyaoma said his top three priorities will be:
• Speaking for the people so they feel that their government is open.
• Helping the schools, especially against the federal government, which is continuing to change formulas so that federal schools get less money.
• Focusing attention on the youth.
Honyaoma said he looks forward to working with Sidney and he has no problem with Sidney's concept of sending him off the reservation to meet with state or federal officials.
"As long as we both remember that we need to focus on the people," he said.
Honyaoma said he is there to assist the chairman.
"I'm ready to take on the challenge and work with my colleague Ivan. I'm excited," he said.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)