Mary Kim Titla: Still believing in the Native vote
"The primary elections for New Mexico, Alaska and Arizona have since come and gone. There were three Natives, including myself, running for congress in these states. The other two candidates Benny Shendo (New Mexico) and Diane Benson (Alaska) are to be commended for running hard fought races. This could have been a historic year had Diane or I won our primaries and went on to win a seat in Congress. A Native woman has never been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate. History making will have to wait.

Recently at a cultural event in Mesa a Native man wave and said “Good luck! I’m voting for you!” “I lost.” I replied. “What? What happened?” he responded in shock. Obviously, I didn’t get enough votes. I lost by about 8,000 votes. In San Carlos, 592 voters out of 2,487 eligible voters showed up at the poll or 23%.

Early in the campaign, I harped on a message I still believe in – Native American voters can decide a Congressional race and a Presidential race for that matter. In 2002 Native American voters turned out in force and are credited with helping put Janet Napolitano into office as governor. The race was decided by 11,819 votes.

Prior to this year's Congressional primary election I was informed the voter turnout estimate for the Navajo reservation was only 15 to 20%. I recalled the comment of a Navajo elder, who also held public office, early on in the campaign. “Go after the bilagona (white) vote. That’s where you need focus your efforts,” she said. I decided I would do both. I spent an equal amount of time in Indian and non-Indian communities because I wasn’t going to take any voter for granted."

Get the Story:
Mary Kim Titla: Audacity of Voting (Native Youth Magazine 10/29)