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 Playing the Game of “Passing the Buck”
in San Juan County 

Question: Can you name the 15 governmental bodies of the approximately 53 local elected officials who reside in San Juan County, serve upon?

Answer: 15 Governments have elected officials who live in San Juan County, as follows:

01. San Juan County government (10 elected positions, 3 commissioners, 1 county attorney, 1 county assessor, 1 county clerk/auditor, 1 sheriff, 1 county recorder, 1 county surveyor, 1 county treasurer)

02. San Juan School Board (5 elected positions)

03. Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council (6 elected positions)

04. San Juan Southern Paiute Tribal Council (6 elected positions) Navajo Nation Chapter Houses in Utah (4 elected positions each- Chapter President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Grazing Official)

05. Teec Nos Pos Chapter

06. Aneth Chapter

07. Red Mesa Chapter

08. Mexican Water Chapter

09. Dennehotso Chapter

10. Oljato Chapter

11. Naatsisaan Chapter 3 Municipalities (5 elected positions each)

12. Monticello

13. Blanding

14. Bluff

15. UT State legislature (1 Representative)

 Other Government Bodies whose elected officials do not reside in San Juan County (and are not counted above) 

16. Navajo Nation Tribal Council (3 elected positions in San Juan County)

17. Navajo Nation President & Vice-President

18. Utah Attorney General

19. UT State legislature -State Senator (Represents all or part of Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch counties)

20. State Auditor

21. State Treasurer

22. State School Board

23. Utah Governor and Lt. Gov

24. US Congress (3 elected positions in San Juan County- 1 Representative, 2 Senators)

18. US President & Vice-President

In response to last week’s trivia question, nobody was able to name all 15 governments in San Juan County. 

In total, 101 elected officials are voted upon by, and directly represent citizens in San Juan County. While about 48 of these officials live outside of San Juan County this is in part due to state lines splitting Native communities here, but each of these officials still has a responsibility to serve local Utah people and address local needs. The biggest problem with having this many officials is known by local residents as the game of “pass the buck.” Here is how it works: Citizen Jane Doe says, “I need help with (INSERT ONE OF HUNDREDS OF LOCAL PROBLEMS HERE.)” Elected official #5 says, “sorry I can’t help because (INSERT POOR EXCUSE HERE),” then says, “you need to go ask (INSERT NAME OF 1/101 OTHER OFFICIALS HERE.)” Citizen repeats this process with each elected official until she gives up, or finds a closed door.


For example, UDB Board Member Evangeline Gray began an effort to connect her community of Westwater to the Blanding Town culinary water system in 2001. None of the people in her neighborhood (a suburb of Blanding) have water. This game of pass the buck has continued for 18 years! Sadly the victims are the 70+ Navajo citizens in her community who still have no water! So, who among the above 101 above listed officials do we hold accountable for this long-standing neglect? Representative Phil Lyman is Evangie’s neighbor and wields a lot of power, but so does the Navajo Nation President. The Aneth Chapter President is also accountable. The Governor of Utah could solve this in a wink too, but nobody has. Why? Because of this game of “passing the buck.” How about these four individuals sit down together and commit to the Westwater community to support them in solving it together?