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City manager petitions turned in with more than enough names

It appears very likely that Mitchell voters will decide if they want to hire a city manager. Three representatives from a group that favors adding a professionally trained administrator to run city business submitted petitions to City Hall on Mon...

It appears very likely that Mitchell voters will decide if they want to hire a city manager.

Three representatives from a group that favors adding a professionally trained administrator to run city business submitted petitions to City Hall on Monday afternoon. Mark Buche, who has led the effort, said they had 1,707 signatures.

City Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson had told the group they needed 1,465 signatures from registered voters in the city to qualify for the June 7 ballot. That's 15 percent of the number of registered voters in Mitchell at the time of the most recent general election, Nov. 2.

Wilson said she will submit the petitions to Davison County Auditor Susan Kiepke to inspect and be sure there are no problems with the signatures.

"I am going to have her do that from now on," Wilson said.

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The city has no legal requirement to inspect petitions. A Daily Republic check on City Council candidate petitions submitted this year found all contained some invalid names, and some of the petitions were very close to not meeting the legal requirement.

Buche, who came to City Hall with state Sen. Mike Vehle and Mitchell lawyer Don Petersen, said they tried to educate the people who circulated petitions to ensure no invalid names were accepted.

The petitions were then checked before they were submitted to the city about an hour before the 5 p.m. Monday deadline that Wilson imposed.

"They look good," she said as she flipped through the petitions. "Just a quick perusal ... they look fine."

She said after Kiepke inspects them, she will call a special council meeting to discuss the matter and, if there are no problems, have the question added to the June 7 ballot.

Races for two council seats -- incumbent Dan Allen and Tim Moon are running for a Ward 2 seat while Marc Bernard, Deb Skibsrud-Bueber and Greg McCurry are competing for a Ward 4 seat -- will also be on the ballot.

If the proposed ordinance is approved by voters, a new city manager would start on July 1, 2012, according to the petitions.

Both Buche and Vehle said they feel if voters are educated about the proposal, they will support it.

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If a city manager is hired, Mitchell would still have a mayor and an eight-member City Council, with two representatives each from four wards.

A city manager would run the daily affairs of the city, prepare and present an annual budget to the council and would report to the council.

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