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San Juan votes out 1st Native American majority county commission, elects 1st Latina

Tourists take photos in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, on Oct. 1, 2021. Voters in the country have just ousted the state's first Native American-majority county commission.

Tourists take photos in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, on Oct. 1, 2021. Voters in the country have just ousted the state's first Native American-majority county commission. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)


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MONTICELLO — Voters in San Juan County opted against reelecting two Navajo incumbents to the county commission, pushing out the first Native American majority of any county commission in Utah and returning control of the commission back to Republicans.

Incumbents Willie Grayeyes and Kenneth Maryboy received 47% and 39% of votes, respectively. Their challengers Silvia Stubbs and Jamie Harvey will join six-term Commissioner Bruce Adams.

Although not politically diverse — Stubbs, Harvey and Adams are all Republican — the new board will still have a minority-majority. County Clerk Lyman Duncan confirmed that Stubbs, a former educator from Argentina, is the first Latina and immigrant commissioner in the county. Harvey is Diné, or Navajo, and has experience in social work.

Grayeyes and Maryboy faced allegations of corruption during the campaign season from former county attorney Kendall Laws, who called on the Utah Attorney General to investigate the two commissioners' relationship with lawyer Steve Boos of Colorado.

Laws claimed that the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and an affiliate group Rural Utah Project paid Boos' legal fees; however, Boos maintains that he has provided services pro bono and that his relationship with the commissioners is not a form of lobbying. Instead, Boos told the Salt Lake Tribune the relationship allowed Grayeyes and Maryboy to navigate a county government that had tried to remove Grayeyes from the ballot and undermine him in other ways.

The two commissioners' elections in 2018 came on the heels of a federal court order that required the districts that disfavored Navajo communities to be redrawn. Boos has represented the Navajo Nation since the 1990s and was the lead lawyer on the redistricting case. The county is 49% Native American and 48% white, according to census data.

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Multicultural UtahUtah electionsPoliticsSouthern UtahVoces de Utah
Sydnee Gonzalez is a multicultural reporter for KSL.com covering the diversity of Utah's people and communities. Se habla español. You can find Sydnee at @sydnee_gonzalez on Twitter.

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