New County Commission signals change is coming
After decades of a Republican majority on the San Juan County Commission, a new Democrat-controlled Commission is signaling a number of changes in San Juan County.
The Commission considered several issues at the February 5 Commission work meeting. Commission Chairman Kenneth Maryboy introduced five resolutions for consideration. They were not listed as action items on the agenda, but may be voted on in future meetings.
The proposals include resolutions to:
1)- re-establish a transfer station in Bluff;
2)- hold regular meetings of the County Commission in southern portions of the county;
3)- have San Juan County Attorney Kendall Laws prepare a comprehensive list of civil litigation the county is involved in;
4)- rescind previous Commission resolutions opposing Bears Ears National Monument; and condemn the reduction of the monument and restore the original designation;
5)- withdraw county participation in lawsuits against the restoration of the monument; and terminate agreements between the county and the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
After Maryboy introduced the resolutions, County Attorney Laws discussed the proposals, stating that several of the items involving litigation would need to be discussed in closed session.
Laws said state law does not allow Commission meetings to be held away from the county seat. “You can hold public hearings in other locations, but Commission meetings need to be held in the county seat,” said Laws.
Public comments were received from a number of area residents, who expressed concern for, or support for, about the resolutions.
Blanding resident Jed Lyman stated, “We no longer have a member of our community to represent us on this board. This is unacceptable. We no longer have a voice in this county, but we expect to be treated fairly.”
In addition to changes at the county level, the new political leadership in San Juan County is exercising influence at the Utah State Capital.
February 4 was American Indian Caucus Day at the Utah State Legislature. Jonathan Nez, the new president of the Navajo Nation, was involved.
The legislature approved a resolution honoring Navajo Code Talkers on August 14 and possibly designating highways in San Juan County to honor the Code Talkers.
In a meeting with Governor Gary Herbert, Utah Dine Bikeyah (UDB) asked for restoration of Bears Ears National Monument to its proposed 1.9-million acre boundary.
In addition, UDB asked the Governor “to provide leadership to overcome ongoing racial challenges in San Juan County, where incidents of bullying and intimidation against Native American citizens… are happening daily.”