May 16, 2017

Recall effort joins sheriff fray

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

A petition to recall McKenzie County’s suspended sheriff is developing as ethical concerns dog his criminal and removal matters.
Arnegard Township resident Eric Homer confirmed his recall effort last Friday, saying that he supports the sheriff’s deputies here and not the alleged hostile work environment created by Gary Schwartzenberger, who has been suspended as sheriff for six months as removal proceedings progress.
Homer also said the cost to taxpayers of affording concurrent salaries for Schwartzenberger and Interim Sheriff Matthew Johansen also figured into his decision.
“It’s time we as a community decide to pay for one sheriff,” he said, adding that he foresees the removal “being drug out” despite evidence he says is sufficient to unseat Schwartzenberger.
“I feel this is how we should be handling it instead of continually waiting for an answer,” Homer said. Last year, he helped lead a local “Back the Blue” movement which he said he still supports.
Details of the recall petition were still developing Monday, but Homer said a special election must come after about three months but before Jan. 1, 2018, following a 30-day window for the county auditor to review and certify the petition, which must have signatures amounting to at least 25 percent of the votes Schwartzenberger received in his most recent election.

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