Regulators appoint the young Navajo attorney to be the seat of State House Latest News

The Apache County Board of Supervisors last week named Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, a member of the Navajo Nation, to replace Rep. Arlando Teller in the 7th District.

Blackwater-Nygren, 25, holds a law degree from ASU and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford and is a clerk with the Navajo. She lives in Red Mesa and will serve Teller’s tenure. While studying law at ASU, she worked for the Indian University Legal Clinic.

First elected in 2018, Teller resigned to accept a position in the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The State Democratic Party welcomed her appointment after previously urging regulators to replace Teller with another Democrat.

“We congratulate Rep. Blackwater-Nygren and know she will serve constituents in Legislative District 7 well. We look forward to working with her and wish her the best of luck in her new role, ”said the party.

Navajo Tribal President Jonathan Nez also welcomed the appointment to a seat that spans much of the Navajo reservation and much of the northern counties of Apache and Navajo.

“We had the opportunity to recognize her and her colleagues during a graduation ceremony when she graduated from law school. Now we are proud to see them able to serve and represent our Navajo people at the state level. We always tell our young Navajo people to get their education and help our people, and that is exactly what Rep. Blackwater-Nygren is doing. As the Arizona legislature continues, we look forward to working with her on many issues, ”said Nez.

Blackwater-Nygren is Hashtł’ishnii and was born for Áshįįhi. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Nooda’i dine’e tachiinii and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Bitahnii.

She commented, “Ahe’hee ‘to everyone who has supported my appointment to this position. I am humble to be your Arizona House of Representatives. I look forward to working with the people at LD7, ”said Blackwater-Nygren following the appointment.

Myron Lizer, Vice President of Navajo Nation, said, “It is very exciting to see so many of our young professionals continue their education and give back to our employees in a variety of ways. I look forward to working with Rep. Blackwater-Nygren to champion issues that will benefit our Navajo people. Congratulations to you and your loved ones. We pray for the continued success of your new company. “

Blackwater-Nygren, who has just graduated from law school, will enter a narrowly divided legislature. The Republicans control the house by a margin of 31-29. In previous legislative sessions, democratic bills rarely escaped committee hearings and almost never made it to a local vote. Republicans also control the Senate – so from 16-14, Democrats find it hard to pass laws – especially young newbies.

However, Arizona has become a swing state this year – with Democrats winning a statewide seat in the US Senate and the presidential election. The fierce vote for President Joe Biden and Senator Mark Kelly over the Navajo reservation played a key role in their narrow victories. In conjunction with Teller’s move to Washington, Blackwater-Nygren could play a role in bringing federal grants to the district.

The Navajo reservation has been hit by the pandemic and at one point suffered from the highest rates of spread in the world. The pandemic shed harsh light on the lack of water and electricity for many on the reserve, as well as the smoldering problems with schools and health care.

The Biden administration has vowed to improve the conditions for reservations, particularly the Navajo reservation.

This could give Blackwater-Nygren a lot more leverage than a typical appointed freshman – at least when it comes to standing up with the federal government on behalf of the district.

Peter Aleshire covers county government and other issues for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at [email protected]

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