Patio dining with a view.  Jan Noirot photo
Patio dining with a view. Jan Noirot photo
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County investigates residency claim against San Juan County Commission candidate Willie Grayeyes
Apr 24, 2018 | 927 views | 0 0 comments | 137 137 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Questions regarding the residency of San Juan County Commission candidate Willie Grayeyes are the latest developments in the ongoing story of San Juan County elections in 2018. San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson is investigating a complaint that Grayeyes is not a resident of Utah and, as a result, may not be eligible to run for office. Grayeyes, a Navajo, is the Democrat Party nominee for the Commission in District 2. Nielson said Blanding resident Wendy Black filed a complaint on March 20 which states that Grayeyes is not a legal resident of the voting district, or of the State of Utah. Colby Turk, a deputy for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department, investigated the issue. In a press release, the county said, “While looking into this issue, we have received information that would support this citizen complaint and have requested Mr. Grayeyes to prove his eligibility to be a candidate for office.” San Juan County would not release a copy of the sheriff’s report to the San Juan Record, stating that the investigation is still ongoing. The Clerk’s request for information was in a letter dated March 28. Grayeyes responded with a statement on April 19 that stated he was a resident of the county and was eligible to be a candidate. Nielson said his office is continuing to investigate the complaint and is eager to make a final determination. Candidates sign an affidavit verifying their eligibility to run when they file for office. Questions have been raised about the eligibility of candidates in previous elections, but the county has never moved to remove a candidate. Challenges to a candidacy are rare, but it is the responsibility of the county clerk to verify eligibility for county office. The County statement adds, “We have been told that there are other voters and possibly other candidates whose primary residence is not in San Juan County, but unless there is a signed formal complaint filed, the county does not follow up with an investigation.” Statutes clearly state that a person must reside within the district where he or she votes. However, “residency” is not as clearly outlined. A large number of voters participate in local elections through absentee ballots, even though they may have lived out of the area for an extended period of time. Grayeyes said his home is near Piute Mesa, in San Juan County and that he has “resided at this home for at least 20 years and intends to remain there permanently and indefinitely.” The home is in a remote area with few other homes. Grayeyes has been involved in local politics for several years, including a run for the San Juan County Commission in 2012. An affidavit filed by Grayeyes said he has been a registered voter in San Juan County since 1984. The affidavit said he is a chapter official for the Navajo Mountain Chapter, serves as chairman of the school board for the Naatsis’aan Community School in Navajo Mountain, and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Utah Dine Bikeyah. Grayeyes also serves as a member of the State of Utah BLM Resource Advisory Council. In January, Federal Judge Robert Shelby signed a court order which creates new voting districts for all three commission seats and all five seats on the San Juan School Board. The order also calls for elections in 2018 for all eight positions. The orders were the end result of the lawsuit filed against San Juan County by the Navajo Nation. The lawsuit argued that the previous voting districts for the Commission and school board violated federal law. The new district boundaries create a Native American majority in two of the three Commission districts, including District 2. The county added, “The responsibility to choose primary candidates falls to the registered political party of the candidate. “If it is found that Mr. Grayeyes is not a resident of San Juan County, the San Juan County Democratic Party has until August 31, 2018 to select a qualified candidate to run in the general election.”
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Spanish Valley may be the largest city in the county within ten years
Apr 24, 2018 | 1596 views | 0 0 comments | 132 132 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Within ten years, Spanish Valley may become the largest community in San Juan County, according to a Spanish Valley Area Plan that was recently approved by the San Juan County Commission. The plan is set to guide future development in the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley. The area is just south of the Grand County line, adjacent to the booming Moab area. The plan projects that as many as 3,500 households could call Spanish Valley home within the next ten years, with a population of 8,770 residents. The current population of the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley is estimated to be 500. If the growth occurs, the population in San Juan County would grow by more than 57 percent over the ten year period in Spanish Valley alone. The document was prepared by the Landmark Design Team under the direction of an advisory committee and the San Juan County Planning Commission. The plan was developed through a series of public hearings, interviews with area residents, and consultation with other entities. The County Commission approved the plan with a unanimous vote on April 17. The plan will guide future development in the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley. The area has seen some growth in recent years, but the report state that a “lack of a culinary water and sewer system, minimalistic zoning and development control, and the lack of planning and development review has constrained growth.” However, the report adds, “The Spanish Valley area is receiving increased growth pressure. Planning and the establishment of better infrastructure for the area is now a top priority for the county.” Two infrastructure development projects are currently under design, including a stand-alone water system and a combined sewer system with Grand Water and Sewer and Moab City. The northern portions of the valley are privately owned, while major sections in the southern portion of the valley are controlled by the State (SITLA) and federal government (BLM). Key uses envisioned for the valley include large residential areas, community and neighborhood centers, parks, recreation areas, open spaces, and trails. The guidelines to the growth and development of the area are outlined in the chart. While the plan predicts significant growth in the area, it adds that “the exact timeframe for implementation is unclear. It is anticipated that full realization of the plan will take several decades.”
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