Federal judge places Grayeyes on ballot for Commissioner race
Aug 07, 2018 | 4688 views | 0 0 comments | 212 212 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WIllie Grayeyes. Photo by Tim Peterson
WIllie Grayeyes. Photo by Tim Peterson
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Willie Grayeyes will be on the November 6 general election ballot in the race for San Juan County Commissioner representing District Two. The decision was made by Federal District Judge David Nuffer on August 7.

Grayeyes was nominated to be the Democratic nominee for the seat in March but was removed from the ballot in April after San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson ruled that he was not a resident of San Juan County.

Grayeyes filed suit in federal court, arguing that he was removed from the ballot without justification.

In a hearing held in Moab before the federal judge, Nuffer placed Grayeyes back on the ballot. Nuffer suggested that any legal questions regarding residency will be delayed until after the election.

The federal lawsuit was filed against a host of officials, with Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox listed as the main defendant. Cox did not attend the hearing. In fact, there was little participation at the hearing from the State of Utah.

Grayeyes lists an address on Piute Mesa near Navajo Mountain as his residence. He was born at the location and has argued that his umbilical cord, buried soon after his birth, establishes his residency according to Navajo tradition.

After a Blanding resident filed a formal complaint, a San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted an investigation and determined that the home was not inhabited on a regular basis.

The investigation suggested that Grayeyes spent a significant amount of time in Tuba City, AZ.

Grayeyes seeks the District Two seat for Commissioner that is currently held by Phil Lyman.

The district was significantly changed after a lawsuit in federal court. Judge Robert Shelby approved new boundaries for the district in January, creating a voting district that is an estimated 65 percent Native American.

The district boundaries include a large portion of Blanding. In fact, the Blanding area forms the largest populated area in the district. An estimated 43 percent of the district is made up of voters who live in the Blanding area.

The Republican candidate for Commissioner is Kelly Laws of Blanding.

While the residency of Grayeyes has been questioned, he is very familiar in San Juan County. He has served in leadership positions for the Navajo Mountain Chapter, served as president of the Navajo Mountain Community School Board, and served on the Utah Resource Advisory Council for the Bureau of Land Management.

In addition, Grayeyes is chairman of the board of Utah Dine Bikeyah and has been a vocal supporter of the original Bears Ears National Monument designation.

In the 1980s, when the voting boundaries were adjusted after a similar lawsuit, Grayeyes was serving as president of Utah Navajo Industries and was involved in the process of creating the new districts.

The ruling came after the press deadline and a story is not included in the August 8 San Juan Record. The issue will be covered in the August 15 issue of the paper. We will update this breaking story as it continues to unfold.

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