Farmington — The Navajo Nation Council's Shiprock delegate is proposing to limit the number of terms people can serve as council delegates.

Russell Begaye is sponsoring a bill that would amend the section of the Navajo Nation Code that sets the number of terms a person can serve as a delegate and tribal president.

Under current Navajo law, a delegate can serve an unlimited number of terms, and the president is limited to two consecutive terms. Although the president is limited to two consecutive terms, that person is allowed to sit out a term and run again.

The term for delegates and the president is four years.

Begaye's bill proposes to restrict delegates to serve four terms, or 16 years, but the terms do not have to be consecutive.

For the president, the term limit would be capped at two terms, which would not need to be consecutive.

"It's to give the new generation the opportunity to run for council delegate or tribal president," Begaye said in a telephone interview Monday.

When Begaye ran for the council in 2010, he said he heard from constituents who wanted to cap the number of terms delegates could serve.

Another reason Begaye proposed the bill is to end the difficulty some candidates face when going head-to-head with an incumbent, he said.

There is a tendency for some voters to continually support familiar politicians, he said, even though there are challengers with good ideas.

"It opens the door for people in general," Begaye said.

If the legislation passes, the amendments would affect this year's election to determine the council and the presidency.

For example, if an individual has already served 16 years as a delegate on previous councils or eight years as president, they would not be eligible to run again.

Starting today, the legislation is eligible for action by the council's standing committees. It is assigned to the Law and Order Committee, the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and the Navajo Nation Council, which has final authority.

Begaye expects the bill to go before the council during the next special session, which could happen this month.

If council approves the measure and it is signed into law by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, it would be applicable to this year's elections.

Candidates may file for the council, the presidency, the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors, the Navajo Nation Board of Election or Kayenta Township Commissioners starting Feb. 27.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.