I was born in Washington, DC, in 1948. My first home was an apartment over the fish docks on the Anacostia River with my parents and my sister.
My family, eventually consisting of three brothers and two sisters, grew up in 100-year-old house in working class Virginia.
I moved here in 1975 to run the Title I program in Montezuma Creek Elementary School. I taught there for ten years.
I taught at Mexican Hat for three years, led Bluff Elementary School as principal for 16 years, and substituted as principal at Navajo Mountain for a year.
In Mussi, I met my future wife, Shirley Woody, who was teaching kindergarten. We married and raised seven children, of whom four still live and work in San Juan County.
San Juan County has been home for me for 43 years. I love to sit in an ancient ruin as the sun sets and listen for the night sounds and watch the moon rise.
I have worked many a shifts on drilling rigs here, camped in the mountains and deserts, hunted, gathered pine nuts, hauled firewood and logs, and just driven to different places to marvel at the beauty of this land.
I have watched the Aurora Borealis from my back porch as well as lay out on the grass at the park among friends and neighbors from all over the county to listen to the music and see the fireworks on the 4th of July.
I have helped many of my neighbors over the years and been helped myself more times than I can count. That’s the neighborly love we hold dear here in this county, it’s what makes San Juan County so special to so many who live here.
We have challenges here as well as many know. Our kids have to leave the county to find work. Economic development is a necessity as well as diversification of our rural economy.
Tourism is helpful, but we need to expand beyond tourism if we hope our children will have jobs to support their families here. Part of the solution lies in local control of county lands.
We need to develop a taxation model to replace or lower property tax, which tends to be way too high. We need to secure and develop water rights water resources for our communities. We need land use policies that work for the 21st century.
We need to build and improve our vast road network, including our D roads, with attention to safety and access.
We need a permanent solution to the tribal sovereignty issues that obstruct our road maintenance and law enforcement cooperation. The Utah Navajo have too long been the “orphans” of Window Rock politics.
Alcohol and drug use are a plague among our people. This plague afflicts the users AND their families. The preventive solutions to this problem lie largely with individuals and families, but we need take a fresh new look at the public aspect.
I plan to listen to everyone in San Juan County – calmly – with respect for the law and a creative approach to solutions that benefit everyone.
There will be hard choices to make along the way, but we can make these choices reasonably if we work together.