Petitions Involving Walmart Land Creating Work For City Clerk
by Jill Johnson
September 10, 2013 7:11 PM
City Clerk Lorie Hogstad is carrying around a heavy load, literally.
Hogstad said, "Timeline? This could all take weeks."
There are four binders Hogstad and her team of two others has to go through. Inside, 6,300 petition signatures, sent in to her office by the 'Save Our Neighborhood' group. The group hopes they will put the City Council's decision to rezone the land on 85th Street and Minnestoa Avenue for a new Walmart to a public vote. It's Hogstad's job to make sure they're valid.
"We simply go through and take a look at what we obviously see is missing or should be there," said Hogstad.
A person signing a petition must print their name and sign it, include their address, city, county and the date. The person circulating the petition must also print their name and sign on the dotted line. Then they look at the notary public. Did they sign, date and seal the document correctly? If these any of these are incomplete or incorrect, the signatures are no good.
Hogstad said, "It's black and white. Either they are in compliance or they're not. I have no discretion to say, 'Well, I believe this is what they meant or voter intent was to do this.'"
Hogstad will then randomly sample five percent of the signatures to make they are registered voters.
Normally that's where it ends. But on Monday, she received another binder from Walmart's Lawyer. It's an affidavit, signed by the owner of the land, challenging the petitions.
Hogstad said, "They did bring in a signed affidavit and attached to that were 112 pages listing discrepancies. I have them right here."
This too she will have to comb over, and respond to every discrepancy listed here.
Hogstad said, "They're saying signer not registered, not found on voter registration list so I would need to respond to that one. You could see what a lengthy process this will be."
A lengthy process in her already heavy workload.
Just to give you an idea. The 'Save Our Neighborhood' group turned in 6,300 signatures. In order for the referendum to force a public vote next April, five percent of the registered voters in the city limits of Sioux Falls or 5,089 signatures need to be valid. That means a little more than 1,200 can be invalid.
The homan family, who owns the land at the intersection of 85th and Minnesota, released a statement. It said, "Our family has been a part of the sioux falls community for over 100 years. The south side of Sioux Falls is a logical place for future development and we appreciate the City Council's thoughtful respect of our right to develop our property in a way that benefits this area.""We have reviewed the signatures seeking to undo the City Council's recent approval decision and believe that this effort has fallen short of the minimum requirements needed to make the zoning of our land a ballot initiative."