An effort to recall Walsh County Sheriff Lauren Wild has been launched in the wake of his decision to fire Ron Nord, a longtime deputy who recently ran against him and lost.
Nord's supporters will likely receive approval Thursday to start gathering the 1,236 signatures needed to force a special election, said Lee Ann Oliver with the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office.
Those trying to recall Wild have been rallying on Facebook. Their group, "Recall Election - Vote Ron Nord Sheriff," had 580 members as of Monday evening. One post from the leader of the effort, Jennie Swartz of Pisek, N.D., says the group has lined up 27 people to circulate petitions in towns around the county.
"There really needs to be something done about this to protect someone that wants to run against their boss without being fired," one group member wrote on the site.
Wild terminated Nord the morning after the Nov. 2 election, alleging that Nord was spreading lies in an attempt to gain votes. Nord maintains he ran a clean campaign.
Nord "should have known going into this that one of us was going to be unemployed when this was done," Wild said Monday. "It's politics."
Wild got 63.5 percent of the vote, while Nord received 36.4 percent, according to the secretary of state's office.
Wild, who's served as sheriff since 1989, said the push for a recall is a distraction from his job. He said that if a special election is held, he will fight to hold on to his seat.
Nord, who had been with the Sheriff's Department for 19½ years, did not return phone messages left by the Grand Forks Herald on Monday.
Oliver, with the secretary of state's office, said supporters of a recall will have a year to collect the necessary signatures, which must come from eligible Walsh County voters.
She said the county auditor would then review the signatures, and if they are approved, a special election would be held. Wild would automatically appear on the ballot, while others, including Nord, would have to gather signatures in order to run, she said.
Archie Ingersoll writes for the Grand Forks Herald