Bismarck mayor will not face a recall election

May 19, 2017

Bismarck city manager Keith Hunke.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

There will not be a mayoral recall election in Bismarck.

A group opposing Mayor Mike Seminary circulated petitions for a recall. The group needed 1898 valid signatures to recall the mayor. 2405 signatures were collected. But Bismarck city manager Keith Hunke said because of discrepancies, the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called in to take a look.

"305 (were disqualified) due to non-Bismarck or non-existing addresses," Hunke told reporters. "198 were thrown out due to unqualified petition circulators. 136 were due to non-eligible voters or illegible entries."

Hunke said the total number of disqualified signatures was 667, leaving 1738 qualified signatures -- 160 short

"There willl not be a recall election," Hunke said.

Seminary said he was gratified -- and relieved.

"People have their rights to express their opinions," Seminary said. "They exercised their rights."

But Seminary said he didn't agree with the method they used.

"Find qualified candidates, encourage them to run and get their name on the ballot," Seminary said. "I think recalls, because you don't happen to like the decisions the city commission is making, is not a productive use of time. But they're entitled to do that -- it's called freedom of speech."

Seminary said there's a lot of work to do. He stopped short of declaring he will seek another term as mayor. His term ends next June.

Lone protester outside Bismarck city hall.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Recall organizers said they were disappointed, but not surprised by the results.

The decision could be challenegd in court. Organizer say they're looking into their options.