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Whitewood mayor faces recall election

Whitewood Mayor Deb Schmidt will face a recall election Sept. 13, after residents submitted petitions with enough signatures to force the issue.

Rusty Karlson and Mark Larimore circulated the petitions that accuse Schmidt of misconduct, malfeasance and nonfeasance.

The petitions claim Schmidt denied special pay to police officers and violated the city personnel manual by taking disciplinary action against police officers without informing them. They also say the mayor violated the city personnel manual by instructing the finance officer to alter or falsify time cards and by hiring a summer recreation manager without the approval of the city council.

According to Whitewood City Attorney Bruce Hubbard, 15 percent of registered voters in Whitewood – about 75 voters – needed to sign the petition to force an election. Petitioners collected 83 signatures.

Schmidt, who has been mayor of Whitewood for a year and a half, said she made the decisions in question with the approval of the city council and the city attorney.

“There are council actions and policies that back up everything I did,” she said. “The city attorney was consulted several times on police matters. I feel we were above the board on everything we did.”

Schmidt said there is documentation to back up everything the council did at city hall, and she encourages residents to look at it and “make up their own minds.”

Schmidt also said that residents who say she has done a poor job don’t have to prove their allegations in order to file the petitions, which she finds upsetting.

Schmidt said that while it is disappointing that the recall election will take place, she is looking forward to it.

“I ran unopposed when I took the seat, and I don’t think anybody should run unopposed,” Schmidt said. “I think people should have a say in things.”

Schmidt said it is unfortunate that the city must hold an election in September since her term ends in April when another election will be have to held.

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