Voters in a southeastern Utah county where Native Americans for the first-time last year took over the majority of a three-person county commission are expected to vote next month on the first step in possibly changing to a new form of government.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports San Juan County voters would decide whether a one-year study should be launched potentially expanding a three-member county commission.
Some political observers say the intent is to undermine the county’s first Native American-majority commission and is a blatant ploy by white Republicans to take back control.
James Adakai, county Democratic Party chair and Navajo Nation chapter president said “the county’s three-commissioner form of government was just fine and dandy while the white Republicans were in control, but now that Native Americans and Democrats are in the majority on the commission, the three-member commission is suddenly in need to change.”
Blanding Mayor Joe Lyman said he has supported expanding the size of the commission for decades, long before the new commissioners were elected. He has argued that a five-member commission would spread the workload and provide a more represented voice to residents by creating smaller districts that would be “likely more in tune with the citizens in their district,” Lyman said.
The special election would cost taxpayers $10,000, San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson estimated this summer.