Red Mesa, Arizona — San Juan County Commission chair Kenneth Maryboy gave an update of San Juan County issues to about 50 people at the Red Mesa Chapter House on Friday, May 10.
Maryboy shared the news about the town hall in a press release emailed on May 14. He said he gave a short history of Navajo representation within the San Juan County government, and noted that the 2018 election was historic — for the first time ever, the residents of San Juan County elected a Navajo-majority county commission.
Red Mesa, Arizona, is just over the Utah-Arizona border
“This has been a long time coming, and shows the importance of registering to vote, voting and having patience and endurance,” Maryboy said in the press release.
Maryboy said he reminded the attendees at the town hall that even after Navajo voters registered, cast their ballots and elected both Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes to the San Juan County Commission, Grayeyes had to defend a lawsuit brought by the losing candidate, who claimed that Grayeyes was not a resident of Utah and thus, couldn’t serve on the commission.
Grayeyes won the lawsuit, but as Maryboy observed, “it’s the same old story of having to fight racism every step of the way,” he said.
The town hall included a “vigorous discussion,” the press release said, and a question and answer period opened with residents chiming in with questions and observations.
Manuel Morgan, a former county commissioner, recalled how hard it was being the lone Navajo on the county commission. Morgan said that Navajos have always had to fight for equal treatment in San Juan County, and that “it’s important to work together to move forward on issues that concern Navajo residents of the county.”
Robert Whitehorse, of Montezuma Creek, echoed that concern at the town hall. The press release said Whitehorse recalled that it took a lawsuit against San Juan County to eventually get a school at Montezuma Creek.
“The same was true of getting schools at Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain, it seems to take a court order to get any services for Navajos who live in San Juan County,” he said.
Red Mesa Chapter President Herman Farley expressed concern that the Utah Navajo Trust Fund and Navajo Revitalization Fund are not being managed in the best interests of Utah Navajos and that a large portion of the funds are being spent outside of the Navajo Nation portion of the county, the press release said.
Several residents raised concerns about the lack of Navajos employed in the county government. Maryboy agreed and said he encouraged people to check the county job listings and spread the word about job openings to qualified Navajo residents.
Maryboy said he also emphasized that San Juan County is currently conducting a search for a full time Chief Administrative Officer, who “serves as the assistant to the commission and makes sure the county government is transparent and operating in compliance with state law.”
Maryboy urged qualified Navajos to apply.
And importantly, he said, all citizens should attend San Juan County Commission meetings, watch the live-stream video of the meetings and get involved in county government and its decision-making process.
The next San Juan County Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, starting at 11 a.m., at the San Juan County Courthouse, 117 S. Main St., in Monticello.
Maryboy talks to Navajos at Red Mesa