By Cris Balzano, Principal at Balzano Government Relations
19 individuals have filed to vie for the Navajo Nation President including incumbent President Russell Begaye and incumbent Vice President Jonathan Nez. The top two vote getters in the August primary elections will be on the General Election ballot in November of this year. After the August primary, the top two vote getters will select their running mates.
Others meeting the filing deadline include former two-term President Joe Shirley, Jr., former Navajo Council Delegate Hope MacDonald-Lonetree, along with two other women – Emily Ellison and Trudie Jackson. A majority of the candidates are from the Arizona portion of the Navajo Nation, two from New Mexico and none from Utah. Popular Presidential candidate Chris Deschene announced on May 23, 2018 that he would not be filing for the Presidential election. Deschene was a top vote getter in the prior Presidential election but was disqualified based on his Navajo language fluency.
The successful candidate will be tasked with undertaking challenges to the Navajo Nation including declining coal revenues, underdeveloped infrastructure, and sustainable economic development.