Thursday, August 13, 2020

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    Here we go again: Lawsuit challenges Grayeyes’ residency

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    By Doug McMurdo
    The Times-Independent

    The Republican who lost to Democrat Willie Grayeyes in the 2018 San Juan County Commission election seeks to have a judge annul the Nov. 6 results, arguing Grayeyes is not a San Juan County resident, or even a citizen of Utah. The arguments were filed in 7th District Court. Prior hearings relative to the case have been held in Moab.

    Kelly Laws and Grayeyes declared their respective candi-dacies for the San Juan County Commission District 2 seat. Grayeyes’ residency was chal-lenged last spring and San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson removed him from the ballot after San Juan County deputy Colby Turk following an investigation determined Gray-eyes is an Arizona resident. A federal judge ordered Gray-eyes to be placed back on the ballot, however, and the clerk was reprimanded. Grayeyes and Nielsen recently reached a settlement that both men refused to publicly discuss.

    Laws in his lawsuit – filed on his behalf by Salt Lake City attorneys Peter Stirba and Mat-thew Strout – allege Grayeyes in his declaration of candidacy swore that he lives near the Na-vajo Mountain Chapter House. Navajo Mountain is within District 2.

    There are roughly 350 people who live in Navajo Mountain, but Grayeyes, say the attorneys, is not one of them.

    They allege he claimed to have lived in Piute Mesa in Navajo Mountain “almost his whole life,” or at least for the last 20 years, in a home previ-ously owned by a late aunt.

    To bolster their argument, the attorneys allege Grayeyes has an Arizona driver’s license he has renewed at least three times, and that he des not have a Utah driver’s license.

    They also allege Grayeyes owns a home in Page, Arizona, and the property tax bills are sent to a Page post office box in his name. The bill, they allege, classifies the home as Grayeyes’ “primary residence.”

    The attorneys in court documents claim Grayeyes spends “several months of the year” in Tuba City, Arizona at his girlfriend’s home and that he maintains an office there. The deputy, identified in court papers as Colby Turk, report-edly recorded interviews with people “in and around” Na-vajo Mountain, and all of them, claim the attorneys, said Gray-eyes is an Arizona resident and not one of Navajo Mountain.

    One woman employed by the Chapter House, where Grayeyes serves as secretary-treasurer, reportedly told Turk that Grayeyes “commutes” from Tuba City. Even Grayeyes’ sister, say the attorneys, told Turk that her brother lives in Tuba City. A coworker of the woman allegedly told Turk that Grayeyes had lived in Tuba City for two or three years.

    Grayeyes himself alleg-edly admitted to Turk that he misrepresented where he lives under oath. According to the attorneys, Turk interviewed Grayeyes at a café in Bluff in which Grayeyes conceded he didn’t live in the Piute Mesa home despite what he wrote on his sworn declaration of candidacy.

    In that interview, which Turk recorded, Grayeyes reportedly said he is on the road “almost all the time” and that he stays with his sister at her home in Navajo Mountain in San Juan County “60 to 70 percent of the time.” But the sister reportedly told Turk that Grayeyes stays with her “just for over two nights, then he go.”

    The attorneys in court documents ask Seventh District Judge Don Torgerson to set aside the Nov. 6 election results and declare the District 2 seat vacant. They also ask that the judge declare Grayeyes’ prin-cipal place of residence outside of Utah, that he is ineligible to hold office in Utah, and that he pay attorney fees and other expenses.

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