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Navajo Nation voters narrow presidential field to Nez and Nygren

Nez
Sakya Calsoyas/KNAU
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Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez met with voters on primary Election Day in Tolani Lake on Aug. 2, 2022.

Voters on the Navajo Nation cast ballots Tuesday for several offices including tribal president. They narrowed a field of 15 candidates to just two—incumbent President Jonathan Nez and previous vice-presidential candidate Buu Nygren. KNAU’s Sakya Calsoyas was at the polling place in the community of Tolani Lake and spoke with voters and candidates.

Doing some last-minute campaigning on a hot and windy day, Nez traveled to many communities where he and first lady Phefelia Nez greeted dozens of voters. Many took the chance to raise infrastructure concerns and other issues facing their communities. Nez said he was happy to see so many people participating in the primary.

"It’s good to slowly come out of this pandemic and to see one another, I think that’s what the election is doing its going to bring a lot of people,” said Nez.

Nez said he was pleased to see people continuing to take COVID-19 precautions at the polls. Earlier this year the Navajo Nation relaxed some pandemic restrictions though masks are still required in public.

Mel Cody is a retired rancher from Flagstaff who was among the voters casting ballots Tuesday.

“There’s a host of issues across the Navajo nation a lot of it are common issues like the lack of water, grazing issues, housing and local government, right,” said Cody.

Historically, Navajo elections have had high turnouts. Early estimates show that half or more registered voters may have cast ballots.