San Juan County, Utah, is preparing for a seismic shift on its county commission.
Although the San Juan Record reported that not all the mail ballots had been counted Wednesday, the Salt Lake Tribune and other sources were reporting that Democrat Willie Grayeyes appears to have won a seat on the commission, defeating Republican Kelly Laws in District 2.
Coupled with the victory of Democrat Kenneth Maryboy in District 3 over a write-in candidate, the results indicate that San Juan County will have its first-ever Navajo-majority commission.
In the other district, incumbent Bruce Adams, a Republican, coasted to victory.
Grayeyes had been struck from the ballot by the county earlier this season over questions of his residency, but a judge ruled that he was to be put back on.
If the results stand, the fact that there are two Native American Democrats on the commission could mean major changes in the county’s stance on public lands, Bears Ears National Monument, historic road claims, and other issues.
The road to Grayeyes’ victory was paved by earlier rulings by a federal judge that forced the county to redraw its voting districts for the commission as well as the school board in order to ensure that Native Americans, who constitute a slight majority of the population in the county, were fairly represented.
In other Utah news, the state passed a ballot measure allowing the use of medical marijuana and also voted to expand Medicaid.
New Mexico is sending a Native American woman to Congress – one of the first two Native American women ever elected to that body. Democrat Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, won in the state’s First Congressional District. (The other was Sharice Davids, also a Democrat, in Kansas).
New Mexico also became the first state ever to elect two women as governor back to back. Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, defeated Republican Steve Pearce for the position. Pearce, a strong conservative, was a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Lujan Grisham will replace Susanah Martinez, a Republican who in 2010 was the first Latina woman ever elected governor in the country.
Jonathan Nez, current vice president of the nation, was elected to be its next president, replacing Russell Begaye Jr. Nez defeated Joe Shirley Jr., who had formerly served as president, by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 to become the tribe’s youngest president ever at the age of 43.
In a furiously contested race for the Senate now held by Jeff Flake, Republican Martha McSalley held a razor-thin edge over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, 49 percent to 48, with a Green Party candidate capturing 2 percent of the vote. Though 99.4 percent of the votes had been counted, the race was considered too close to call as of 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
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