Note: The following is a prepared statement from the San Juan County Democratic Party.
Oljato, UT – The San Juan County administrator’s recent resignation was not a big surprise. “Mr. Pehrson had not been willing to take direction from the new County Commission and execute its priorities, and his abrupt resignation last week was not earth-shaking news,” according to James Adakai, San Juan County Democratic Party chairman.
It’s been four months since the Navajo-majority County Commission was sworn into office. “I had to repeatedly ask Pehrson to update the Commission regarding progress he’d made towards complying with approved County resolutions, including providing a County organizational chart, a policies and procedures manual, and updates on ongoing County projects. To no avail,” reported commission chairman Kenneth Maryboy. “If Pehrson had not resigned (giving only 48 hours’ notice), we would have taken disciplinary action. The county administrator was more interested in throwing sand in the gears than in supporting the elected commission majority. That arrangement could not continue.”
Due to a lack of formalized policies, and procedures, the Commission has approved several resolutions since January “to provide structure to a government that was, for all intents and purposes, operating on unknowable and undocumented ‘internal’ policies that Pehrson mentioned but never produced,” noted Maryboy.
There was little doubt the new Commissioners would face some amount of resistance when they were sworn into office. However, the vitriolic resistance is not merely from white residents who didn’t support the new commissioners at the ballot box. There has been intense resistance from within the ranks of the County government, including from the former County Administrator. The Administrator works at the pleasure of the elected Commission, and his job duties specifically include “implementing goals, programs, policies and procedures established and approved by the majority vote by the Board of County Commissioners” noted Adakai, and “Pehrson failed in all respects.”
Said Adakai, “Voters in San Juan County who supported Commissioners Maryboy and Grayeyes voted for changes in County policy priorities. Elections have consequences, and these two commissioners are committed to expanding representation beyond the anglo power structure that has controlled public policy in San Juan County since its beginning.”