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Mayor survives challenge in Whitewood recall election

  • Updated

Deb Schmidt retained her title as mayor of Whitewood Tuesday night after a recall election was held in the town of 927 people.

Schmidt faced the recall after two local residents raised concerns over alleged misconduct that she has denied.

She captured 59 percent of the vote, with 158 votes Tuesday, according to Whitewood finance officer Cory Heckenlaible, to defeat challenger Ken Noren.

“I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I really wanted to serve out my term as mayor, and I was tickled that the people of Whitewood came through,” Schmidt said Tuesday night.

Noren, a former public works director, challenged Schmidt for the seat after a successful recall petition.

Tuesday’s win was a clear message of confidence by voters, according to Schmidt, who also noted the unusually high turnout.

“I think people would like me to move forward with some projects that have been started and they’re happy with how I’m doing,” Schmidt said. “I’m very proud of the people from Whitewood who took time to look into the allegations and have been so supportive.”

In the wake of the allegations over police pay among others, Schmidt said she would work with the city attorney to “address some personnel issues sooner rather than later.”

Noren said it was a close race, and that he will consider running again, when Schmidt’s two-year term is up in April.

“The public voted the way they wanted to vote,” Noren said Tuesday night. “They chose who they wanted. I’m really glad to have the turnout we had.”

Schmidt said she plans to see through several infrastructure projects in the city, and then turn her attention toward re-election in the spring.

“We’re working to change out water meters in town, and there are some sewer lines that are also very old. I have some ideas on how we can do that and finance it. We need to expand the sewer plant, but we have many things we absolutely need to get done.”

Contact Nick Penzenstadler at 394-8415 or nick.penzenstadler@rapidcityjournal.com.

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