Picking next mayor a process: Dickinson residents have 15 days to form petition for special election

At an open house honoring Dennis Johnson’s time as mayor of Dickinson on Thursday, a man walked up to City Commissioner Gene Jackson and said, “Well hello, Mr. Mayor.”

Jackson quickly corrected the man.

Though the Dickinson City Commission’s vice president will serve as acting commission president for Monday night’s regular commission meeting, there are a few steps the city must take before Dickinson officially names its next mayor.

“The clock starts ticking” today, said City Administrator Shawn Kessel.

Citizens who want to have a special election to select a new City Commission president — the position our city commonly refers to as mayor — have 15 days to submit a petition to the city with signatures of 5 percent of the total amount of people who voted in the last City Commission election in June 2014.

To clarify, that’s only about 137 signatures. Also of note is that a person didn’t even have to vote in the June 2014 election to be eligible to sign the petition. He or she just needs to be a qualified resident of the city.

If no petition comes in, the City Commission is left with three options:

› It can appoint someone to fill the commission president position through the end of that roll’s term, which ends June 30, 2016.

› It can call for a special election to fi ll the position.

› It can choose to leave Johnson’s vacated commission president position open until the June 2016 city election. If no petition is brought before the city, and the commissioners choose one of their own to fill the president position, that’ll likely happen at the Nov. 16 City Commission meeting, Kessel said.

If they choose a current commissioner to become president, they’ll have to start the entire process over again to determine that commissioner’s replacement.

If faced with that option, Kessel said he believes the short-term nature of the vacant fifth commissioner role will put the City Commission in a position to appoint a commissioner — likely someone with past City Commission experience — to serve through next June. Commissioners from the past 10 years still living in Dickinson include Rhonda Dukart, Shirley Dukart and Rod Landblom.

Kessel said any form of special election would likely cost up to $5,000.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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