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Archie Ingersoll, Forum Communications Co., Published December 04 2010

Walsh recall effort gets enough signatures

GRAFTON, N.D. – A group seeking to recall Walsh County Sheriff Lauren Wild announced this week that it has gathered enough signatures to force a special election.

The leader of the recall effort, Jennie Swartz of Pisek, said the group has about 1,250 signatures – several more than the required 1,236.

The push to oust Wild began after he fired Ron Nord, a deputy who ran against Wild in November and lost. Wild got 63.5 percent of the vote, while Nord received 36.4 percent in a race with 4,013 votes cast, the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office reported.

Wild, who’s served as sheriff since 1989, axed Nord the morning after the Nov. 2 election, alleging Nord was spreading lies in an attempt to gain votes. Nord, who had been with the Sheriff’s Department for 19 years, maintains he ran a clean campaign.

“Not every deputy who runs gets fired,” Swartz said, giving this year’s race for sheriff in Grand Forks County as an example. “It didn’t have to happen that way.”

Nord said he’s been working part-time jobs since he lost his deputy position. He said he has not been involved in the recall effort.

If there is a special election, Nord said, “I’d be more than happy to run again.” Meanwhile, Wild has vowed to fight to hold onto his seat.

Those in favor of a recall started collecting signatures Nov. 18.

Judging by the speed that the necessary number was reached, Wild said, he suspects the recall was planned before the Nov. 2 election. “I’ve got a small group of people that want to put my head on a platter,” he said.

Nord and Swartz said Wild is wrong in his suspicion. “I think he’s just grasping,” Swartz said. “I think he’s just kind of sour that we got them (the signatures) in two weeks.”

Swartz said her group, which had about 30 people circulating petitions, aims to have roughly 100 extra signatures in case some are thrown out when the county auditor reviews them. The signatures must come from eligible Walsh County voters.

County Auditor Sharon Kinsala told KFGO radio that if the signatures are OK’d, she has 90 to 100 days to order a special election, which will cost $10,000 to $12,000.

Wild would automatically appear on the ballot, while others, including Nord, would have to gather signatures in order to run.

Archie Ingersoll writes for the Grand Forks Herald