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Time to drop recall effort against mayor

Mike Seminary

Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary delivers the State of the Cities Address in November. Members of a group who say they are frustrated by Seminary's leadership priorities have submitted a petition for a recall election. 

An effort to recall Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary seems based on old complaints and targets a mayor with less than 18 months to go in office.

If recall supporters are so unhappy with his performance why did they wait so long to launch their effort? Why try to replace a mayor with so little time left in his term? Whoever wins will have to face voters again in June 2018.

For those reasons alone the Tribune believes the recall isn’t necessary.

Seminary was in his second term as a city commissioner when he ran unchallenged for mayor. He also ran uncontested for his second city commission term. By the time he ran for mayor his positions on the issues were well known. If residents weren’t satisfied with his performance it’s unfortunate they couldn’t find a candidate to challenge him. The Tribune doesn’t question the right to mount a recall, but it would seem a process best used when a grievous act is committed. The criticism of Seminary isn’t new and doesn’t go beyond the ordinary conflicts of serving in office.

"They have issues with misplaced public leadership priorities, ignoring public infrastructure needs to the point of creating a public finance crisis and allowing city property to be sold at a loss and below market value," Paul Maloney, a spokesman for the recall group, told the Tribune. He cited the below-value sale of the Bismarck Burleigh medical building and the renovation of the then Bismarck Civic Center after the public voted against it as other factors in the recall effort.

Others complained about Seminary welcoming the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to Bismarck during the powwow week in early September. The mayor later told protesters it was time to go home.

The recall petition has been approved by the secretary of state. Organizers will need to collect about 1,898 signatures to get on the ballot. That’s 25 percent of the number of people who voted in the last mayoral race. They also need at least one challenger on the ballot.

The Tribune urges Seminary’s opponents to rethink the recall. Use the next months preparing a mayoral campaign for 2018. When issues arise where you disagree with the mayor, make yourselves heard at commission meetings. You can make a difference without trying to remove the mayor from office. Why spend money on a special election this year when another election is around the corner?

The Tribune hasn’t always agreed with the mayor and we don’t expect to agree with him all the time in the remaining months of his term. However, we don’t believe his actions merit a recall.

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