Kenneth Maryboy, the only Navajo Nation Council delegate representing the Utah portion of the reservation, has filed to run for tribal president.
Maryboy, 52, served two and a half terms on the Council before Navajo citizens voted to reduce the Council from 88 members to 24. He was re-elected during the 2010 midterm election and has continued to serve since then.
Maryboy, a Democrat, also serves as one of three San Juan County, Utah, commissioners. First elected to the commission in 2006, Maryboy launched an extensive campaign in 2010 and now is serving his second term.
If elected as president, Maryboy would be the first person from the Utah portion of the reservation to serve as the tribe’s top executive. He is the only current Council delegate so far to file his papers and officially announce his candidacy.
“I’m really looking forward to representing Utah,” he said during a phone interview. “But if I am elected, if this happens, I plan to serve the whole Navajo Nation, not just the Utah part.”
Maryboy completed his paperwork and paid the $1,500 filing fee on March 21. If elected, he plans to develop a Navajo Nation Division of Labor with a cabinet-level director. The division would address the tribe’s massive unemployment rate, which hovers around 50 percent, and the concerns of corporate America.
“I want to cut through the red tape and put youth to work, put entrepreneurs to work,” he said. “I’m looking at every means possible to develop jobs.”
Maryboy also wants to create a presidential road commission to coordinate road improvement projects among the three states, individual counties and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“The reservation roads are really bad, and it can be hard to get funding appropriated,” he said. “I want to change that.”
According to his election website, www.kennethmaryboy.com, Maryboy worked as a welder, electrician and rodeo announcer before seeking a career in politics. He also created the non-profit program Navajo Santa to provide food, clothing, blankets, toys and medical supplies to people.
So far, Maryboy faces competition from political newcomer Myron McLaughlin and Joe Shirley Jr., who served as the tribe’s only two-term president from 2003 to 2011. McLaughlin and Shirley both are from Chinle, Arizona. Several other people, including current president Ben Shelly and Donald Benally, a career politician from Shiprock, New Mexico, have picked up packets from election offices.
Candidates have until May 28 to file paperwork and pay their fees. The primary election is August 26. The top two candidates will face off during the November 4 general election.