Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sat, Feb. 22

Letter: Navajo leaders need higher pay

To the editor:

Now that the President and the Speaker have agreed to work toward reducing the number of Council delegates, the next logical step is to raise pay for the President and Vice President.

I feel that the figure of $125,000 is in line with what we should expect to pay our President for service as leader of our Nation. This figure is one that would give the opportunity of more of Navajo residents to be able to run for the job, yet, the figure is not so high that individuals will run for the job just for the salary.

The Nation's Council and the Office of the President should represent all of the Navajo people, but without some increase in salary, many worthy Navajo leaders will not be able to afford to serve.

There is great difficulty for Navajo people who work in the business industry, education institutions, private corporations, federal, state and county governments, medical establishments and many others to leave a well-paying job to come and run for the Office of the President. We should not only preserve the right but also the ability of all Navajo people to serve their Nation regardless of residency. More importantly, a leader whose experience is limited to having served as a council delegate or a chapter official should not be the only ones to serve the Diné Nation as President, Vice President or Speaker.

The most challenging situation we must avoid is electing Navajo people into office particularly as council delegates, chapter officials, President and Vice-President and Speaker, where they are actually are paid to just sit around [and] do nothing but pat themselves on the back and ignore critical Navajo people needs. By expanding the pay, especially for the President and Vice President, a much larger pool of our Navajo leaders would have the incentive to offer themselves for public service, leading to potentially many more challengers in upcoming elections. The greater the number of choices, which we are given to select our tribal leaders, the greater the quality of our elected officials will be.

The Council under the Speaker may rationalize that this is no time for pay increases for the President and Vice President due to the tough economic times. Fair enough. However, if the economic timing is not right for an increase [in the pay] for President and Vice President, then the timing must really be rotten for a stipend increase and buying rings for Council members.

Being President of one of the largest Indian tribes is a tough job and we understand that. As one voter who is frustrated with the current situation, I implore others who believe as I do, to please take a moment to send your Council Delegate and especially the Speaker, a polite note telling them to support this idea or perhaps face being voted out of office.

Wallace Hanley

Window Rock

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