If Jerry Hatter hadn’t hung an election sign from a fire truck in a parade, he’d likely still be an Alexander City Council member.
Late last year, he was charged with an election-related misdemeanor that would have resulted in his removal from office, if convicted. Last Monday, Northwest District Judge Josh Rustad accepted a pretrial diversion agreement between Hatter and McKenzie County State’s Attorney Chas Neff Jr.
Neff agreed to suspend prosecution until June 12 — the date of the next election — and then dismiss the case if Hatter resigned his seat by Friday.
Alexander Mayor Jeff Whitehurst confirmed that Hatter resigned effective immediately at Wednesday’s city council meeting. He had served less than six months.
Instead of a special election, Alexander voters will fill Hatter’s seat in the regular election in June, Whitehurst said.
“We’re just going to move forward and regroup and try to move on as a town,” the mayor said.
Hatter’s attorney, Deanna Longtin, declined to comment on the case.
Hatter was previously Alexander’s mayor but lost re-election to Whitehurst in a three-way race in 2016. After councilman Richard Modine resigned last year from the Alexander City Council, Hatter and longtime McKenzie County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Perry ran for his seat. Hatter bested Perry by two votes in September’s special election.
But after reportedly hanging a bedsheet painted with "Vote for Hatter" on a fire truck participating in Alexander’s Old Settlers Days parade in September, Hatter was charged with misdemeanor using state services or property for political purposes. He pleaded not guilty in December.
Court documents say Alexander Fire Chief Lance Powell disputed Hatter’s hanging of the sign on the taxpayer-funded fire truck at the time. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation later investigated before Hatter was charged.
Efforts to reach Hatter for comment were unsuccessful.
Alexander is a city of 300 people about 20 miles south of Williston.