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Voices Behind The Vote: A Native Educator

Marisa Demarco / KUNM
Sharon Chavez in her backyard near the Black Mesa.

Candidates in this year’s presidential election have been tight-lipped about the fight against an oil pipeline in North Dakota and how demonstrators there are being treated by police. That’s weighing on Sharon Chavez, who is Navajo and Hopi-Tewa. She’s a retired educator who’s lived in San Felipe Pueblo for 47 years. She talked with KUNM about what it means for her as a woman to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.

Voting for the first woman who’s within arm’s reach of the presidency will be an emotional experience, Chavez said, but the negativity of this election cycle has tarnished that feeling. “Maybe it’s just the whole atmosphere that has taken away from what might have been a good campaign for her.”

She’s waiting, she said, for candidates or politicians to say something meaningful about the anti-DAPL demonstrations and the necessity of clean water. “One of the things that’s happening that really disturbs me is the brutality of the law enforcement,” she said. “I know people have been pepper-sprayed. They’ve been shot at with rubber bullets. I just hope nothing happens that takes a life.”

Chavez likes Clinton’s positions on women’s issues and a woman’s right to make choices about her body, and she likes her education plan. “She wants to make testing fair and meaningful for every child,” she said. 

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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