The Navajo Nation on Tuesday elected a first-time tribal president who could use his new position to highlight tribal issues in Utah.
Jonathan Nez, a former tribal vice president, won handily. As president, Nez will represent Navajos in Arizona and New Mexico, where most of the tribe lives. He will also represent members in southern Utah, which has a significantly smaller population.
Concerns like the constant issue of road maintenance often get left out when it comes to Utah Navajos, said Davis Filfred, a member of the Navajo Nation 23rd Council, and who represents five chapters in southeast Utah.
“It’s always Arizona and New Mexico roads,” said Filfred, who lives in Aneth, a community in San Juan County. “We have roads too in Utah. Just simple things like that.”
But Filfred is optimistic about President Nez. As a Navajo Nation Council Delegate, Nez used to represent two chapter houses located in Utah — the Oljato and Navajo Mountain communities near the Utah-Arizona border.
Filfred said Nez advocated for the Bears Ears National Monument in Washington D.C. and that he has a relationship with Kenneth Maryboy, the Navajo San Juan County commissioner who was re-elected this year.
“I know he knows these issues and I know that he will support them,” Filfred said.
Nez was elected on Tuesday and his term will begin in January, 2019.