Glitch causes Clayton recall to fall short

2013-06-04T06:30:00Z Glitch causes Clayton recall to fall shortJoe O'Sullivan Journal staff Rapid City Journal
June 04, 2013 6:30 am  • 

The petition drive to force a recall election of Rapid City Councilman Bill Clayton over racist remarks made last year has fallen short after a significant number of signatures were disqualified by Rapid City officials on Monday.

Though about 7,000 residents signed the petitions, 166 of the 467 pages of signatures handed in were deemed ineligible because they came from two petition gatherers who are Montana residents, according to a memo from the City Attorney's office. South Dakota law states that people gathering petition signatures must be state residents.

The remaining 4,466 signatures were about 1,700 short of the approximately 6,200 necessary to trigger the recall.  

Clayton has been under fire since he made racially insensitive remarks to a Jamaican-American TV reporter last year. In a phone interview last August with Taisha Walker, Clayton suggested that she go back to Kenya and questioned her citizenship.

The man who led the recall effort, former city council member Gary Brown, said Monday he was unlikely to re-start the petition drive. "We are too short, didn't make it," said Brown. He has said he would have run against Clayton if a special election were triggered.

Brown said he doesn't plan on mounting another recall effort, and may not run against Clayton in the next general election. Both Brown and Emmett Reistroffer, the organizer hired to oversee the petition effort, said they were unaware of the residence law.

"I will be happy to take full accountability for violating the law, as will [the two Montana workers] who came in from Billings to assist our efforts," Reistroffer wrote in an email. "We were not aware of the law, and I believe it is a far greater injustice to dismiss the will of nearly 7,000 Rapid City voters because of a technical violation of two signature gatherers."

"I am exploring my options with an attorney to challenge the decision of the city should they throw out that portion of signatures," he added.

Brown declined to say how much he paid Reistroffer, saying, "that's just between he and I."

Rapid City Finance Officer Pauline Sumption declined to comment but was planning to brief the City Council on the situation Monday night.

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant said a new petition effort would have to completely start over and couldn't use signatures previously collected.

If successful, the recall would have triggered a special election between Clayton and eligible challengers. Both Mayor Sam Kooiker and his challenger in Tuesday's election, state Sen. Mark Kirkeby, have said they signed the petition.

Clayton on Monday called the news "a distraction on the eve of the election" and repeated the phrase he often has regarding the entire affair: "This is what happens when you attempt to hoist a lie up the flagpole." Clayton has said he did not know the reporter was a minority when they spoke on the phone last year. Clayton will be up for re-election next year.

Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(24) Comments

  1. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - June 10, 2013 10:12 am
    Also, this isn't about Sam. It's about Brown's inability to read a rule book.
  2. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - June 10, 2013 10:12 am
    LOL! You telling me (or anyone) to stop attacking. Now that's good for a laugh.
  3. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - June 10, 2013 10:11 am
    Those grapes are mighty sour.
  4. Adam
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    Adam - June 09, 2013 11:37 am
    Regardless of circulated the petitions, the voters are the ones signing for the recall. With that in mind, the decision is clear, I like many others do not want racist bigots representing this city. If Mr. Clayton followed what he believes, then he would step down, but like many self absorbed people, he believes his morals are correct. So now we just have to wait it out, because we all know he will not use good judgement, and step down.
  5. Roland
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    Roland - June 07, 2013 7:33 pm
    Ding ding ding we have a winner. Frank was to busy running for Mayor to help...
  6. Roland
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    Roland - June 07, 2013 7:33 pm
    Sam, you got another 2 years. Just be happy and stop attacking people.
  7. ctothej
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    ctothej - June 06, 2013 12:54 pm
    About 63,000 Rapid Citians did NOT sign the petition. I think that speaks a little louder than the 4300 legal signatures...

    My crude estimate is only around 10,300 people voted in the mayoral election, so I'd say 7000 signatures, or even 4300 legal signatures is half or more of the people who do seem to care...
  8. Marc_Linn
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    Marc_Linn - June 05, 2013 9:06 pm
    Hey ForTruth!
    About 21 percent of Rapid City turned out for the recent elections! I guess by your logic the 79 percent who didnt bother to vote speak louder than those that did! Actually almost as many people signed the petition that turned out to vote. This guy needs to go!
  9. blackhillsmarine
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    blackhillsmarine - June 04, 2013 10:33 pm
    What amazes me the most is how Clayton still thinks there is conspiracy against him. His Wingnut friends claimed the council was picking on him because of the way he voted. It is so laughable. Who cares how he votes, It is how he treats people that is an embarrassment. Whether he is or isn't a racist is a mute point. On multiple occasions he has talked like one. Was that a slip of the tongue or a window into his soul? Either way, we can't have someone that behaves like a racist in government and 7000 of our citizens said so. The Wingnuts supports Clayton and with Mr. Napoli's recent rant about the women on the council, shows that they are mostly a group of old white men that favor bigotry and chauvinism over the potential greatness of tomorrow. Thank you Gary Brown, who is also a white, older man for standing tall and shining the light into the future. You know the future lies with equality and acceptance. I will always remember that you saw a wrong and tried to fix it.
  10. Dogwoman
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    Dogwoman - June 04, 2013 8:13 pm
    Gary Brown did a lot more than any single other person in this town did regarding this problem. Maybe if he had a little help instead of criticism.....
  11. Roger Cornelius
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    Roger Cornelius - June 04, 2013 3:44 pm
    Well, I think it is time to sit down and have a man-to-man talk with this Clayton guy.

    That of course will be impossible since most men have integrity and this Clayton guy doesn't have any at all.
  12. NelagT
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    NelagT - June 04, 2013 3:18 pm
    I really doubt that Clayton could gather 7,000 names of his supporters. I fall into the crowd that was searching for the petition to sign, but never crossed paths with it. This system is outdated...why can't we move to an online petition system - even the DMV has an online system now!

    I think the moral of the story is NEVER let someone run unopposed.
  13. NelagT
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    NelagT - June 04, 2013 3:14 pm
    Clayton's actions upset one person (Taisha Walker) so much that she moved out of this town and took a new job. Think she will give a good reference for our city if someone asks her about her experience here? Doubtful. So, yeah, I think Clayton's actions were pretty serious.
  14. Jason
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    Jason - June 04, 2013 2:19 pm
    To readers from outside Rapid City: This comment does not reflect the views of most people here in Rapid City.
  15. Fast Eddie
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    Fast Eddie - June 04, 2013 1:03 pm
    I'm proud of African-Americans. You never hear them or hear of them accidently making a racial slur. Do you? It's comforting to know that African-Americans have gotten over slavery and have forgiven the white race for having evil great great great great grandparents that most of us have no clue as to what they even looked like or acted like. Did Claytons act upset someones life so much that they can no longer go on with their life? From what I've heard it didn't. It's time for everyone to get a life and move on with it.
  16. Jason
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    Jason - June 04, 2013 10:45 am
    You really nailed it there. This is exactly how I feel.
  17. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - June 04, 2013 8:17 am
    It's too bad this failed, but the failure rests squarely with the person running the show: Gary Brown. Let's not forget who he was using to gather signatures. Beyond that, he didn't even read the rule book. I ask you, does someone like that EVER need to be on our city council? I don't like Clayton, but Brown is hardly any better. I hope the voters in Clayton's ward choose wisely when voting next time. And I hope neither of these characters are a choice. Talk about incompetence!
  18. Rhudedog
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    Rhudedog - June 04, 2013 8:15 am
    Sorry boys & girls but next time find a real racist (jerks don't count)
  19. GL
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    GL - June 04, 2013 7:43 am
    Buy Cheerios, buy all the boxes in Rapid City to show solidarity against racism!
  20. ForTruth
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    ForTruth - June 04, 2013 7:26 am
    I think, for any one reading this article, it would be wise to watch certain parts of the city council meeting from last night. The video is on the city website under public meetings. I watched it and it was rather enlightening. There is some vital information related to this issue which is not included in the article. Of particular importance are the public comments at 19 minutes, please watch both of them. Then at 1hr 11 minutes is the finance officers report. In addition to the out of state petitioners, there was also improper notorization.

    Regarding the out of state petitioners, well, the law stating petitioners must be SD residents is not hard to find. Anyone one doing a bare minimum of research should have known the law. Since sex offenders cannot circulate petitions, there also should have been a brief interview with each person hired to circulate. Mr. Brown and his assistant broke the law. Some of you seem to think it is ok to break the law and retain those signatures. What Mr Clayton said was insensitive and wrong but it didn't break any laws.

    About 63,000 Rapid Citians did NOT sign the petition. I think that speaks a little louder than the 4300 legal signatures.

  21. Carter M Michaels
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    Carter M Michaels - June 03, 2013 5:25 pm
    It does not seem likely that this guy will step down. If anything he seems to be enjoying the spotlight.

    Looks like if RC wants to be rid of him, we are going to have to figure out plan B.
  22. Black Hawk
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    Black Hawk - June 03, 2013 5:08 pm
    If 7000 people took the time to sign the petition, can you imagine the number who feel the same way but didn't or couldn't sigh it? This turnout does increase my respect for the majority of people in RC. Thanks for that!
  23. RC_concerned
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    RC_concerned - June 03, 2013 3:57 pm
    Mr. Clayton should take the success of the campaign to gather 7,000 signatures as a sign that the will of the people in Rapid City is that he resign his seat on the city council. The citizens of our community have lost faith in him and he needs to do the right thing and relinquish his position. He can not be an effective leader for the city when so many people hold him in disdain for his words and actions. Do the right thing Mr. Clayton and step down!
  24. cruzified
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    cruzified - June 03, 2013 2:07 pm
    Even if there isn't enough legal signatures to rid this city of this kind of behavior the council should recognize that out of staters "tourists" don't approve of this behavior. How this person can still show his face in public shows the level of his humanity.
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