Just months after a special election, Alexander voters could again be looking for another city councilman.
Jerry Hatter, 41, won Alexander’s special election for a city council seat in September, besting a longtime McKenzie County sheriff’s deputy by two votes. He currently faces a campaign-related misdemeanor that could result in his removal from office.
Court documents allege Hatter and Alexander Fire Chief Lance Powell disputed the hanging of a campaign sign on a taxpayer-funded fire truck participating in the city’s annual Old Settlers Days parade days on Sept. 2, days before the Sept. 12 election.
The sign, made from a bedsheet, reportedly read, "Vote for Hatter," written in spray paint.
After an investigation this fall by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Hatter was charged with Class A misdemeanor using state services or property for political purposes.
Hatter pleaded not guilty on Tuesday and is set for a jury trial in May in Watford City. His charge carries a minimum mandatory of removal from office, if convicted.
He did not return phone messages left for him Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone said he had been removing snow all day.
Alexander Mayor Jeff Whitehurst said Hatter has attended several city council meetings since he won election and referred to “innocent until proven guilty” regarding any possible removal.
“Like I said, we’ll just have to see what happens here and take the appropriate actions with the city council, and the council is monitoring the situation,” the mayor said.
Alexander City Attorney Aaron Weber was unavailable for comments Wednesday. McKenzie County State’s Attorney Chas Neff Jr. did not immediately return an email inquiry.
In 2016, Hatter lost re-election for mayor as the one-term incumbent in a three-way race. First-term Councilman Richard Modine’s resignation in March set up the special election, which Hatter won last fall.
Alexander is a city of about 300 people about 20 miles south of Williston.