Sturgis tried to duck special election, but can't duck S.D. Supreme Court
Citizens collected signatures for election, but city wouldn't certify
The city of Sturgis was wrong not to schedule an election after a group of residents submitted petitions to vote on whether to employ a city manager, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Three citizens filed suit against the city in 2022 after the Sturgis finance director refused – on the advice of the city attorney – to certify an election after the citizens’ group collected enough signatures equal to 15 percent of registered voters. The plaintiffs were Tammy and Justin Bohn and Brenda Vasknetz.
Citing the opinion of the city attorney, Finance Director Fay Bueno declined to certify an election because the city argued that voting on a city manager was an administrative decision and not a change in government, which would be subject to a public vote.
That opinion was rendered despite the fact that Sturgis voters approved adding a city manager in 2007. Besides a city manager following that 2007 vote, Sturgis had a council of aldermen and a mayor as its form of government.