Navajo candidate seeks Utah Legislature seat

Davina Smith, Navajo, said got all her jitters out the first time she ran for Utah representative in 2022. She’s even more determined for her second round of campaigning for the District 69 seat.

Her former opponent Phil Lyman announced in October 2023 that he won’t be seeking reelection and is instead running for governor. So far, two Republican candidates Lynn Jackson and Logan James Monson will be facing Smith if she advances in the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic primary election on June 25.

Smith grew up in Monument Valley, Utah, with her grandparents where she had cattle and herded sheep. She said she knows what it feels like to struggle from hauling water and having no electricity. They additionally felt the effects of uranium mining, which her grandfather worked in and that she said infiltrated their livestock’s water and was present in the dirt.

“There’s this perception that I don’t know what it feels like to live off the land. I do genuinely. But also I come with another perspective of I lived in the city so I understand how it feels walking two worlds,” she said.

Smith is concerned how many Utah issues are not addressing rural issues, specifically in the southeastern part of the state. Some bills that have been introduced by Republicans in Utah’s recent legislative session are mandating mail-in ballots to arrive at the clerk’s office by Election Day. As of now, they just have to be postmarked by Election Day. Another bill that was introduced is to require voters who want to vote by mail to request it. Contrary to county clerks who send the mail-in ballots automatically.

Smith said there are residents in Navajo Mountain in San Juan County that could be impacted, like having to travel hours out of their way to vote.

“We’re talking about them having to maybe leave work, get out of work. It’s November so who knows we might have some severe weather conditions,” she said.

Some of the issues that she hopes to work on if elected is improving the education system in rural communities, teacher’s salaries, housing, investing the taxes from tourism to be invested back into the communities, healthcare and support for veterans. She said she’s not a career politician and being an Indigenous woman brings a different perspective to the table.

“There’s a lot we need to address, and that is why I ran. That’s why I wanted to make a better impact for our rural communities. The goal is to win and when that happens I look forward to doing some work that needed to be done a long time ago,” she said. READ MORE — Kalle Benallie ICT

Source: The Wrap: Navajo candidate seeks Utah Legislature seat – ICT News