A Voice from the Gallery
“The pessimist is the man who believes things couldn’t possibly be worse, to which the optimist replies: ‘Oh yes they could!'”
Madeleine Urban, Fish & Chips (Cut & Run#3)
Running for office in a small community is an experience! When I first took out my petition, I asked how many signatures I needed. The finance officer told me, “well, if you have 10-12 you should have plenty”. That is not what I asked. I let it go. I called the Union County Auditor and asked, “how many signatures do I need for city council petition? ” I was told that, “you need to contact your finance officer, she has the formula.” This is wrong, I should have been given a definite number. Not a ‘well-if-you-have’ number.
I turned my petition in ahead of the due date. After the petition turn-in deadline, I asked look at the authenticated petitions. I was told there was a problem with the boundaries and that the Alcester Finance Office was waiting for the Union County Auditor to get back to them. I asked to see my petition and noted that some signatures were marked as invalid because they were allegedly in Ward II not Ward III, my ward. I told the Finance Officer that was incorrect. I continued to watch the situation and was ultimately told the situation had been “resolved”. Since I had a 2010 Ward map and it matched the current Municipal Ordinances which set out the Ward III boundaries effective date August 6, 2014, I was confident I was correct and good-to-go.
Still there was that niggling thought that people were going to be disenfranchised from voting in their own ward. On March 21, 2016, the council met for the purpose of acting as Board of Equalization and during Public Input I asked Mayor Glas and the council about the Ward III boundaries, again questioning the Ward III boundaries. Referencing the ordinances which stated:
“C. Ward Three shall include all of that part of the City east of the line defined by Park Avenue, the secondary between Lots 32 and 36 of the Morningside Addition, the boundary between Lots 1 and 2 of Block 1 of the Hyden Heights Addition, Hyden Drive, and Church Street.”
Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota
Effective date August 6, 2014, Page 4,,Chapter 2.02-WARDS AND VOTING PRECINCTS, 2.020 Wards,, item C. Ward 3.
No response, no ‘we’ll check into it’, nothing, just a blank, Phzzed look from Mayor Glas! Finance Officer Pat Jurrens responded the language was a little vague but the invalidated names were in Ward II not Ward III. I want to note here that Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland was not present in the meeting.
At the April 4, 2016, regular meeting of the Alcester City Council during Public Input I asked what the council had found out about my question of Ward III boundaries, figuring they had asked City Attorney Haugland. Mayor Glas with a lost sideways look, stated, “I am going to have Pat (Alcester Finance Officer) answer that.” Once again I was told East Park Avenue was in Ward II not Ward III. I pressed that the Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota 2014, clearly and specifically described the boundaries of Ward III and East Park was definitely in Ward III. Councilman Mike Burke stated, “I talked to Mike (Mike Kezar, former Alcester City Finance Officer) and I believe him and not YOU! I continue to argue that the Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota 2014 was very clear and written, out- weighs any map. Councilwoman Kama Johnson commented that they were going by the map. At which point Mayor Glas lifted his chin, stating, “That is what we decided,” with several council voices in assent. I stated, “You are wrong!”
Again I want to point out Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland was not present at the April 4, 2016, meeting. But, two city employees were present and witnessed the exchange. Oh, by-the-way there was no vote in open session to affirm Mayor Glas’ assertion, “That is what we decided“.
On April 8, 2016, still feeling members of Ward III were going to be denied their right to vote, I went to the Union County Auditor Offices in Elk Point. I presented my concerns to the Union County Auditor Klumper. She asked questions, I answered them and she showed me the map the City of Alcester had presented to her office in 2012 which showed a non-existent road east of Park Avenue as the west boundary of Ward III. After calls to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office and the Alcester City Finance Officer, it was determined I was correct and the line down the middle of Park Avenue was the correct western boundary as set forth by the Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota 2014. Now there was the problem of how to fix error at 4:00 p.m. Friday before Tuesday April 12, vote. Auditor Klumper made a comment, “maybe the council meant to wait until after the election to fix the error”. I pointed out that people would be denied their vote and it was already too late for absentee voters to vote, they had already been denied their vote. Auditor Klumper said she was going to try to get a legal opinion from the Union County Attorney and she would call me to let me know. I left my telephone number. At 4:47 p.m. Friday afternoon, Union County Auditor Klumper called to let me know they were going to update the Ward lists. This still leaves a problem of voter disenfranchisement.
“‘OH YES THEY CAN”
WARD III, ALCESTER BE SURE TO VOTE TUESDAY, APRIL 12!