The People Have Spoken – Prop 10 is Defeated

For Immediate Release: November 8, 2019

Contact – Alastair Lee Bitsóí: (917) 202-8308

SAN JUAN COUNTY, UTAH – Micah Daniels (Diné), of Montezuma Creek, Utah, is one of many young voters who turned out Tuesday to reject Proposition 10; thus, ensuring the Native American-majority San Juan County Commission remains intact as a representative voice for all citizens in San Juan County. 

“The reason I am voting is because I do not agree with Prop 10, because I want to maintain Native representation in the county,” Daniels says, and added, “It’s very important to me, and I want my voice to be heard.”(Video message by Daniels here)

San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson just announced that Proposition 10 was rejected by San Juan County voters. This proposal intended to study how to restructure the three-member San Juan County Commission. According to the final count, 2,120 people voted against forming a committee to study alternative forms of government and 1,967 voters voted for it. The margin of defeat was 3.7%.

“This vote is unprecedented. In 1990, our communities ran an all-Native American slate of candidates for almost every position on the ballot. We ran for the County Sherriff, County Recorder, County Assessor, County Clerk, and we were heavily defeated by a 24% margin in some cases, even though we held the majority of the population. Things have changed now that Native voters are educated, registered to vote, and are exercising our democratic voice. Today is a good day,” added Mark Maryboy, UDB Board Member and former San Juan County Commissioner.  

Proposition 10 was the 5th attempt in only 9 months to disenfranchise Native voters in San Juan County, which would have created a study committee to look at other forms of government. Proposition 10 would have further suppressed Indigenous voices by leaving decisions about the future of San Juan County government to a biased, and unelected, selection committee, which would have been allowed to choose the study committee participants. 

UDB Board Chair Davis Filfred (Diné) says that voters like Daniels make a difference in San Juan County, where last year, the people spoke and elected the first Native American-majority commission ever, in the State of Utah last November, 2018. The current County Commission includes Willie Grayeyes (Diné), Kenneth Maryboy (Diné) and Bruce Adams. 

“A lot of people do not agree with this study idea or other ploys to take away our voice. They’re finally waking-up. They’re finally realizing that voting is a tool and we need our voices,” added Filfred, who was encouraged by the voter turnout to defeat Proposition 10. “Now that this fifth attempt to remove Native Americans from office is defeated, it is time for San Juan County citizens to come together across the racial divide to heal and move forward,” said Filfred, who submitted his mail-in ballot weeks ago, voting “No to Prop 10.”

Mary Benally (Hopi/Diné), a UDB board member from Mexican Water, Utah, added that she is pleased with the Native American demographic turning out to vote. 

“Things happened that should not have happened,” Benally said, referring to current cultural clashes in the county. She adds that today’s leadership on the San Juan County Commission works as it should, and she thanks all San Juan County voters for rejecting Proposition 10. “The commissioners sit down with the people and people are listening to each other. A lot of people who cannot make it to commissioner’s meetings in Monticello, get to go to the commission meetings in our own communities. That’s a benefit. The people have spoken and want us to heal and find solutions going forward.”

Malcolm Lehi (Ute), a UDB board member who was sworn in as a Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council member last week said, “It’s a great feeling. I am glad we won and that Proposition 10 did not go through. This election, we organized, mobilized, acted fast, and defeated Proposition 10 by saying no. Normally, a decision, like voting yes or no, for government reform is made without concern for its impact and implications on us as Ute Peoples, or other communities across Indian Country. The newly sworn-in Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council also took a stance to oppose Proposition 10 on Tuesday during its first session. Moving forward, we must all continue to stand together as Native people when facing challenges.” 


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