Western Agency opposes special election outcome
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - A press conference called by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Leonard Chee (Birdsprings/Leupp/Tolani Lake) was held Dec. 21 to allow Western Agency Delegates an opportunity to declare their opposition on the outcome of the Dec. 15 special election.
The event was well attended by Western Agency delegates, other agency delegates and Western Agency community members.
Other than Chee, other delegates attending included Jack Colorado (Bodaway-Gap/Cameron/Coppermine), Hope MacDonald Lone Tree (Coalmine Canyon/Toh Nanees Dizi), Leslie Dele (Tonalea), Evelyn Acothley (Bodaway-Gap/Cameron/Coppermine), and Thomas Walker Jr. (Birdsprings/Leupp/Tolani Lake).
Delegates from other agencies attending the press conference included Kee Allen Begay Jr. (Many Farms/Round Rock), Lorenzo C. Bates (Upper Fruitland), Lee Jack Sr. (Whitecone/Indian Wells), Nelson Begaye (Lukachukai/Tsaile/Wheatfields), Leonard Tsosie (Pueblo Pintado/Torreon/Whitehorse Lake), Lawrence R. Platero (Tohajiilee) and Young Jeff Tom (Mariano Lake/Smith Lake).
"Western Agency Council delegates as a whole did not support any of the two initiatives pushed by the President's office of the Navajo Nation," Chee said. "Our purpose here ... is to let you know as representatives of Western Navajo Agency we very strongly are opposed to the results of the election."
Chee sourced Navajo Nation code as grounds for their opposition.
"I want to make a statement that we are going to look at Title 2 §102a, which states that the Navajo Nation Council shall be the governing body of the Navajo Nation and shall consist of 88 delegates," Chee said. "This ... shall not be amended unless approved by majority vote of all register[ed] voters in all precincts."
Chee explained the Western Agency comprises 18 chapters. The results of the special election indicated 12 of the 18 chapters voted in opposition to council reduction and 11 of the 18 chapters voted to grant the Navajo president line item veto authority.
"That is our basis for the Western Agency delegates to say that we are taking an opposing position," Chee said. "Even though these initiatives passed, the initiatives are still subject to amendments and repeal ... by a two-thirds vote."
Chee also cited Title 11 §409 c., which states legislation adopted by a referendum/initiative election shall be amended and repealed only by a three-fourths vote of the full membership of the Navajo Nation Council at a regular session of the Council.
Council Delegate Thomas Walker Jr. expressed his community's opposition to the two initiatives. "I too join in stating Birdspring Chapter's position in the recent election in regards to the initiatives and to voice the concerns and opinions of the chapter I represent," Walker said.
On Dec. 20, Birdsprings Chapter unanimously passed Resolution No.BS-12-011-09 stating their official opposition to the outcome of the special election.
Specifically the resolution stated the Western Navajo Agency Chapters strongly opposed the two initiatives, and the 18 chapters belonging to the Western Navajo Agency opposed the initiative. The reasons given for their opposition included that there is no plan for the council reduction, no procedures for the presidential line item veto, no education provided to the voters, and that small chapters will be adversely impacted.
The resolution also respectfully requests the Council to do all things necessary to ensure the voters are properly presented with a plan, provide education on both initiatives, and thoroughly analyze the potential impacts before implementation is attempted.
Chee concluded the press conference by stating that a suit would be filed by community members of the Western Agency.