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Group trying to recall Fargo Commissioner Piepkorn over his refugee stance submits petition for state review

FARGO -- A group seeking to recall City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn because of his views on refugee resettlement has submitted its proposed petition to state officials for approval.

John Strand
Dave Piepkorn
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FARGO - A group seeking to recall City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn because of his views on refugee resettlement has submitted its proposed petition to state officials for approval.

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said his office will finish reviewing the petition's format no earlier than Thursday, March 16, and no later than Monday, March 20.

If the petition format is OK'd, the group must collect 3,504 signatures of eligible Fargo voters to trigger a recall election for Piepkorn's seat, said City Auditor Steve Sprague.

Piepkorn has complained that local governments have no say in how refugees are resettled and yet are left paying for services to help the new residents. Phone messages left for him Friday, March 10, were not returned.

"Commissioner David Piepkorn's ongoing attack of the refugee population in Fargo is wrong-headed, short-sighted, divisive and dangerous," the proposed recall petition says.

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Andrew Lenzmeier is chairman of the recall sponsoring committee. The other committee members are Fauzia Haider, Nyamal Dei, Erin Buzick and Ruth Buffalo, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for state insurance commissioner last year.

The group would need to submit the signatures by May 12 to give Sprague 30 days to verify them and set a date for the recall election by June 12. June 12 is the deadline because state law says the scheduling of a recall election can't happen within a year of the next regular election for the seat, Sprague said.

Piepkorn is up for re-election to another four-year term in June 2018. He was first elected as a commissioner in June 2008 and served until 2012. He was re-elected in 2014.

If enough signatures are gathered, a recall election would be held within 95 to 105 days of when the signatures are verified, Sprague said.

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