Mayoral Recall Effort on Track in North Dakota

BISMARCK -- Organizers of a petition to recall Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary say they have crossed the 2,000 signatures mark.

Under state law the petitioners are required to get 1,898 valid signatures, equivalent to 25 percent of voters in the most recent mayoral race, according to Kevin Glatt, Burleigh County's auditor.

There's also a possible candidate to run against Seminary -- Steve Bakken, who said he is "definitely running" -- should the recall happen.

And he's confident he would be able to get the 300 signatures needed to get on the ballot. The deadline for filing as a challenger in a recall election is 64 days before the date of the recall election.

Paul Maloney, a spokesman for the group who initiated the petition, said they had been aiming for 2,000 signatures to give themselves a buffer but will continue collecting through April 19 to further hedge their bets before delivering the signatures to Bismarck City Administrator Keith Hunke's office.

Hunke will then have 30 days, or until May 19, to confirm whether the signers live within Bismarck city limits and are of legal voting age. If enough signatures are valid, he must call an election within 95 to 105 days, likely putting the special election in late August.

Seminary ran unopposed for his post as mayor in 2014 and his seat is up for re-election in June 2018, giving any potential successor less than a year in office before running for re-election.

Bakken said he was already planning a run for the mayor's seat in 2018. And when he initially heard about recall efforts, he thought the mayor should be allowed to finish his term.

"I don't know the tipping point" for the organizers of the recall petition, according to Bakken, adding arguments convinced him of "the damage that could be caused before (Seminary) finishes his term."

Bakken said his platform would be one of rebuilding relationships with other government entities and better, more transparent leadership with fiscal accountability to the voters and taxpayers, especially as Bismarck struggles with infrastructure upgrades in a growing city.

"It just got to the point we were tired of waiting," said Maloney, adding that the management of Dakota Access Pipeline protest activity and its effect on local business owners was what urged many to act.

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