Aberdeen City Council Appointment Could Affect District 3 Election, Boost Medicaid Expansion?

An eager reader composes this unpleasant scenario by which the Aberdeen City Council could trigger gubernatorial meddling in the District 3 Senate and House races:

Does it scare you that if David [Novstrup] sits on the city council, he will resign his seat as the senator of dist 3, to which the governor will appoint his replacement? Would he choose Al Novstrup as his replacement and then in turn place Drew Dennert as Al’s replacement? It would put an already uphill battle for the democrats in D3 even harder against all “incumbents” [DR, comment, Dakota Free Press, 2016.07.26].

David out, Al to Senate, Drew to House—interesting! The Governor wouldn’t really have to appoint anyone if the city gives David an excuse to vacate his seat early: Senator David Novstrup is only on one interim committee, and he’s sure not doing much there. Rep. Al Novstrup isn’t on any interim committees, so if he did get moved up to his son’s vacated seat, filling Al’s slot would be even less imperative.

I would gamely suggest that, given a city-induced Senate vacancy, Governor Daugaard might be just as inclined to pick me for District 3. The Governor knows Al Novstrup has squishily resisted his big remaining policy priority, Medicaid expansion. He knows I’m ready to beat back Republican baloney and support the human, economic, and fiscal benefits of Medicaid expansion at a moment’s notice. The Governor might be inclined to give a Medicaid-expansion backer like me the nod to scare other GOP candidates around the state into toeing his line on his policy priorities.

And the last thing the Aberdeen City Council would want to is be responsible for making a blogger a Senator.

Or maybe Governor Daugaard knows I can beat Al on my own, without any brief burst of publicity and incumbency, no matter what seat Al occupies. Maybe the Governor would still move Al from House to Senate but then appoint one of my Democratic ticketmates, either Nikki Bootz or Brooks Briscoe, to the House seat before the election. I’m pretty sure either of them would be more likely to back the Governor on Medicaid expansion (not to mention support for K-12 education and other practical policy) than their opponents, Rep. Dan Kaiser and young ultra-conservative Drew Dennert.

Either way, appointing a sitting Senator to Aberdeen’s vacant council seat appears to be a political minefield. That’s one more reason the non-partisan Aberdeen City Council should look to its other, less political and less conflicted applicants to join the city’s decision-makers.


4 Responses to Aberdeen City Council Appointment Could Affect District 3 Election, Boost Medicaid Expansion?

  1. David would not have to resign his senate seat to take a seat on the city council. Republicans are allowed to serve in both legislator/councilor capacities at the same time, and even as legislator/mayor. It’s only Democrats who are told they must resign one or the other – like Mike Kroger in Dell Rapids a few years back.

  2. Actually, Cory, after further research, there is no law that prevents that. Mark Remily, who sits on the council, ran against D. Novstrup two years ago and said he would serve in both capacities.

  3. Ror and DR, are you sure? State law allows, but Aberdeen city ordinance includes this passage:

    (a) Holding Other Office. Except where authorized by law, no council member shall hold any other elected public office during the term for which the member was elected to the council. No council member shall hold any other city office or employment during the terms for which the member was elected to the council. No former council member shall hold any
    compensated appointive office or employment with the city until one year after the expiration of
    the term for which the member was elected to the council unless such position existed prior to
    term expiration or resignation of the member or was created by this charter. Nothing in this
    section shall be construed to prohibit the council from selecting any current or former council
    member to represent the city on the governing board of any regional or other intergovernmental
    agency [Aberdeen city ordinance, Part I, Article II, Section 2.05].

    Does “authorized by law” mean that a state law explicitly authorizing a legislator to also serve on a city council would allow an exception to this ordinance? Or does that phrase require another city ordinance to explicitly allow such double duty?

    DR, I’d say that city ordinance does not prohibit a sitting councilor from running for another office; the above passage suggests that if such a council won election to another seat, the councilor wold have to resign his council seat before taking oath for the newly won office.

  4. I wonder if the younger Mr. Novstrup, who is a really good candidate to serve on the city board, is watching that old fellow Mr. Clinton talk right now or is he out helping his community by volunteering? I bet you the other young Novstrup is at this very moment working on his next law bills to help people. They are tireless fellows, the Novstrups.