CROWNPOINT, NM - The Presidential Forum held at Navajo Technical University (NTU) in Crownpoint drew all 15 candidates competing in the primary to be held on August 2nd, 2022. A large crowd was present at the Wellness Center, and more people were present through online streaming and radio programming as the candidates debated and discussed a wide range of topics important to Navajo voters.
Sponsored jointly by NTU and KTNN radio, Dr. Elmer Guy characterized the event as an opportunity for voters to really hear what the candidates for president have to offer voters concerning the future of the Navajo Nation and its people.
“This forum was a great platform to give our candidates a voice to speak out and give opinions on topics relevant to the Navajo Nation,” he said after the event. “We heard wonderful responses about how higher education is a priority to our candidate's goals and how we need to continue encouraging one another for our people.”
Candidates that attended the forum included Earl L. Sombrero, Dolly Manson, Dineh Benally, Justin Jones, Buu Nygren, Emily Ellison, Kevin Cody, Sandra Jeff, Frankie Davis, current President Jonathan Nez, Leslie M. Tsosie, Ethel Branch, Greg H. Bigman, Frank Dayish, and Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch.
A number of candidates expressed enthusiasm about the event after it was finished.
"It was an amazing experience, especially hearing different responses from each candidate. I wish I had a little bit more time to answer questions given," said Frank Dayish, Navajo Nation President Candidate and the current Vice President. "I wanted to give more. I wanted to say more. But I feel good."
"The classes were amazing,” Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch said after touring the laboratories and classrooms on campus. “I love the technology that is at our fingertips. I know the younger generation will succeed in different areas of the Navajo Nation." She continued by saying that "NTU surprised me. I like how it was the question were randomly timed, and the questions made you quick on your toes, which is how it should be."
The current Navajo Nation President, Jonathan Nez, praised NTU’s time in the spotlight. "I believe NTU,” he said. “It's in institutions like these that allow our people to see and attend these events. You see leadership. I believe in not being separated as a community; we should be united, and that was why I was here tonight."
During the campus tour provided for the presidential candidates, trade instructors pointed out some of the work students have participated in to improve the campus, such as gazebos built, outdoor classrooms, and modular classrooms. Summer intern students also made presentations, saying they were hoping they would one day become instructors, grant writers, and research program assistants that could serve the needs of the Navajo Nation.
Candidates also had the chance to visit NTU recruitment booths while attending the Presidential Forum. They had the opportunity to meet front-line staff, who were out and about providing information to potential students. In addition, each candidate had informational booths that allowed each of them to educate voters about their platforms and qualifications.