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Navajo President Jonathan Nez says he’ll seek re-election

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez arrives for an event with first lady Jill Biden, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris at Isaac Middle School in Phoenix on June 30, 2021. Nez announced in April 2022 he is seeking a second term in office. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press file)

SHONTO, Ariz. – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, whose tenure has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, is seeking a second term in office.

Nez made the announcement over the weekend from his hometown of Shonto. Nez, 46, highlighted his administration’s handling of COVID-19 and said he wants to ensure that plans to rebuild the economy, and extend power and water lines continues.

“We must continue on the path of recovery and healing together,” he said in a statement.

A handful of others also have said they’ll seek the position, including Buu Van Nygren, Ethel Branch, Frank Dayish Jr. and Earl Sombrero.

Nygren, a vice presidential candidate in the tribe’s 2018 election, recently resigned as chief commercial officer at the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority.

Branch, who served as Navajo Nation attorney general while Nez was vice president, launched a COVID-19 relief fund for Navajo and Hopi families that has raised over $18 million, according to its website.

Dayish lost a bid for the tribal presidency in 2006 after serving as vice president under Joe Shirley Jr. Dayish has since worked in administrative positions in the health care and housing industries.

Sombrero is the manager of a Navajo chapter, or precinct, near the Arizona-Utah border.

The deadline to file for the tribe’s top elected post is May 4. More than a dozen people typically run for president of the Navajo Nation, which has the largest land mass of any Native American tribe in the U.S. and is second in population with about 400,000 tribal members.

The primary election is Aug. 2. The top two vote-getters move on to the November general election.

Buu Van Nygren announces his candidacy for Navajo Nation president in Window Rock, Ariz., on Monday April 4, 2022. (Noel Lyn Smith/The Daily Times via AP file)
Frank Dayish Jr. is running for Navajo Nation president. (Donovan Quintero/Associated Press file)
Ethel Branch is running for Navajo Nation president. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press file)