San Juan County is asking a federal court to finalize a recent decision on voting districts. County leaders want to appeal the ruling, as the county’s Native American majority applauds it. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued his decision a few days before Christmas. It basically requires San Juan County to hold a special election next year using new district boundaries for three commission seats and five school board posts. And it’s aimed at reflecting the Navajo majority. “People are very excited,” says Mark Maryboy, who was talking about the decision with other Navajos on Wednesday in Monument Valley. “They want to try to get some Navajo candidates to run for the county commission, school board and other county positions.”
Maryboy held the county commission seat targeted for Native Americans for 16 years.
“And the vote was always 2-to-1,” he says. “I can tell you that there’s a lot of opposition as far as the county serving the Navajo population.”
The question of racial gerrymandering has dogged the county for decades. It boils down to the principal of “one person, one vote,” just like ongoing African American voting rights cases across the country.