TOWER CITY, N.D. — Mayor Scott Salberg survived a recall election on Tuesday, July 9, in this town of 287 people on the far western border of Cass County along Interstate 94.
The vote total, according to City Council member Al Walker, was 74 for Salberg and 25 for Randy Crist, who was part of a sponsoring committee that put the recall on the ballot.
According to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, for a recall to be successful there has to be another candidate on the ballot. If the other candidate wins, then the mayor is ousted.
"A recall election is not an up or down vote on one person," he said in an earlier interview..
Five city residents had submitted a petition to Jaeger's office for the recall, listing the reasons to oust Salberg as poor performance of duties, failure to enforce city ordinances, allowing harassment of other city officials at meetings, removal of city records from the file and failure to conduct all city business in an open forum.
Chairman of the recall committee Maryln Halland didn't elaborate on the reasons in an interview back in April. Numerous calls to Crist, Salberg and other city residents were never returned for further comment.
Walker said he voted to keep Salberg as mayor.
"Personally, I think he's doing as good a job as he can," Walker said.
He said there are a lot of opposing viewpoints in the town, but he thinks the five-member City Council is "working together pretty well and I attribute a lot of that to Scott (Salberg)."
Walker also said the mayor can only break a tie vote, so sometimes he doesn't have a say in what is decided.
According to the Cass County auditor's office, which runs elections for Tower City and others in the county, Salberg won election in June 2016 with 71 votes compared to 39 for Marilyn Halland.
The town has had a high turnout of voters in the past two city elections, with more than 75 percent voting.
Jaeger said once his office approves the petition format, they leave the rest of a recall election up to the city itself, including verification of the signatures on the petition. Once signatures are found to be valid, he said the city auditor must call a special election no sooner than 95 days and no longer than 105 days.
He also said mayoral recalls are "more common than you might think." Since 2001, he said there have been 22 recall petitions for mayors statewide. It was in 2001, he said, that the law was changed to require petitions for recall to be reviewed by his office for the proper format.