Recall of Shelly, Jim underway

By Marley Shebala,
Noel Lyn Smith and
Glenda Rae Davis Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, June 12, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Navajo Nation Vice-President Rex Lee Jim, left, and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly take a seat at a table in the tribal council chamber before the start of the special session of the Navajo Nation Council regarding the proposed water rights settlement on July 5 in Window Rock.

BOTTOM: Former Navajo Nation President Milton Bluehouse and several other Navajo voters filed an affidavit this week to recall Ben Shelly and Rex Lee Jim.

A n effort has officially begun to recall Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim.

On Tuesday, eight registered Navajo Nation voters, including former President Milton Bluehouse Sr., filed paperwork to begin the recall of Shelly.

On Wednesday, the same eight voters filed paperwork to begin the recall of Jim.

Ed Becenti, one of the eight voters, said on Wednesday that the decision to recall Shelly and Jim came after the public forums hosted by the tribe's two top leaders on the proposed Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement.

"Shelly is not listening to the people," Becenti said.

He said that even though the Council voted down the proposed water rights settlement that Shelly is already planning to bring back the proposed settlement to the council for another vote.

"The council represents the 110 chapters," Becenti emphasized. "The people have lost faith in the president. Just look on Facebook."

Supporters of the recall have created a Facebook page titled "Recall Ben Shelly."

The page, which was created on June 29, has as its moniker a black and white headshot of Shelly with the words "recall Ben Shelly" in bold, capital letters fixed over his smiling face.

No person has taken credit for its creation.

The page had 10 "likes" since yesterday. The "likes" on Facebook are indicators that show the page's popularity.

In the "about" section only one sentence is found: "We Dine citizens have finally realized the full disaster the Ben Shelly administration has become. It is time for a change."

The page's current activity is minimal, showing only two comments from Navajo youth who visited the page.

One comment says, "I wish it didn't have to come to this but this man has to go!"

The page also lists an additional website,, which currently only shows a similar black and white image to that of the Facebook page.

The page can be found at:

Becenti added that other comments regarding the people's lack of support for Shelly could be viewed on several other individual Facebook sites

He said that the effort to recall Jim came at the urging of numerous young people who attended and tried to participate in the forums.

"Vice President Jim showed a lot of disrespect to the youth at the forums," Becenti remembered. "He wouldn't let the youth speak. He ridiculed them for not practicing the traditional Navajo way."

He also emphasized that the recall effort against Shelly and Jim was not based on "personal grudges."

Erny Zah, spokesperson for Shelly and Jim, said on Wednesday that Shelly and Jim learned about the recall effort on Wednesday.

Shelly issued a statement reading, "I believe the Navajo people want progress within their government to continue with guidance from the Office of the President and Vice President.

"Nonetheless, the reasons for a recall petition are purely subjective and are not backed by factual evidence. Their reasons seem to be more of an effort to settle personal vendettas from a select few who feel my leadership is too strong against their personal agendas," he said.

The election code mandates that all elected officials may be removed from office if 60 percent of the registered voters who voted for them in the last election file a petition seeking the official's removal.

The Shelly-Jim ticket received 33,784 votes, so 20,271 signatures would be needed to recall them.

Any five or more registered voters may start a recall by filing a notarized affidavit establishing themselves as a recall committee, which is responsible for circulating and filing a recall petition.

No recall petition may be circulated or signed until such affidavit is filed with the election administration.

The recall petition has to be in a format specified by the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and allows voters to sign only the portion of the petition designated for the chapter in which the voter is registered.

The recall petition needs to be filed with the election administration no later than 180 days after the affidavits are filed by the recall committee.

Failure to file a recall petition within this time period renders the recall null and void.

After signatures have been obtained, the recall committee shall file the completed recall petition with the election administration, which has 30 days to review.

A recall petition is deemed sufficient when it appears to be signed by the required number of registered voters and certified by the election administration.

If the recall petition is insufficient, the election administration director will notify the recall committee of the findings and the reasons why the recall petition is insufficient.

When a recall petition is certified sufficient by the election administration, the administration will set a date for the special recall election.

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