The Sturgis City Manager debate continues

In 2021 a petition was gathered by voters interested in changing the city manager position.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 8:06 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - In 2021 a petition was gathered by voters interested in changing the city manager position. This petition was eventually overturned by a circuit court judge who ruled that voters do not have the authority to remove the position of the city manager. Those in favor of making this change argue that they are not trying to remove the position but instead change the form of government used by the city.

“The problem with Judge Krull’s ruling is that back in 2007 the petition that was voted on… the petition and the election that created the city manager and the office of city manager in the first place. It specifically says on the petition that the voters are taking this action pursuant to SDC 9-11,″ said Eric Davis, a lawyer helping to represent Sturgis citizens for the change.

The law that Davis is referring to is a part of the code that states the people of Sturgis have the right to submit a petition requesting the change by election. The finance officer then has a duty to schedule an election “no later than fifty days after the petition is submitted.” The city claims that the original petition was improper and therefore would not be acted upon. Ultimately, the council passed a referendum to allow proponents of the change to petition for an election to be forced but advocates instead opted to appeal the judge’s ruling.

“We just decided to put our faith in the South Dakota judicial system to resolve this dispute one way or another so the citizens of this community can actually understand how their government operates and exercise their right to change it if they so choose,” said Davis.

We reached out to the city council for a response, but they declined to comment.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ordered the case on its May term calendar and ordered an oral argument in Pierre on May 24th.