Democratic chairwoman under fire says she will protest recall vote if ousted

SOUTH DAKOTA(The Dakota Scout)- A looming recall vote later this month in Fort Pierre isn’t going to be enough to force the top South Dakota Democratic Party official out of her post.

In fact, state Democratic Party chairwoman Jennifer Slaight-Hansen intends to challenge the results of the recall if her opponents get the necessary votes to oust her.

Democratic delegates with the state party’s Central Committee have collected enough signatures to trigger an emergency vote on whether or not to recall Slaight-Hansen. The vote is Aug. 19 in Fort Pierre.

In an interview Wednesday evening with The Dakota Scout, the Aberdeen Democrat says she believes the process that has been undertaken to remove her has not followed legal procedure.

“There are vocal critics who have not taken the time to ask me questions about my experiences throughout this,” Slaight-Hansen said“They have only listened to rumors and innuendo.”

Slaight-Hansen argues that the party’s scheduling of the Aug. 19 meeting to vote on her recall her was not done in accordance with the party’s constitution. In consultation with an attorney, whom she declined to name, she said she was advised the organization of the meeting first must be brought up at a meeting of the SDDP executive board, which then forms a committee to oversee a recall. At that point, a date is selected and the chair gets to concur in the dates.

And according to Slaight-Hansen, none of those steps happened.

“They present the petitions, and then they have to be approved by the chair,” she said. Slaight-Hansen cited already-scheduled family plans as a reason she may not be able to make the meeting as scheduled.

Another discrepancy stems from the number of delegates believed to be eligible to vote in a recall. An email being circulated by party leaders in favor of recalling Slaight-Hansen says that there are 120 eligible delegates. Slaight-Hansen believes the number is likely closer to 300.

But regardless of who shows up to a potential meeting to consider her removal, she says that she doesn’t intend for that to be the last chapter of the state’s minority party’s saga.

“I will follow the appeal process that is laid out in our constitution,” Slaight-Hansen said. “I’m continuing to play this by ear and see where things go… I am still working to call every delegate and work through their concerns.”

Slaight-Hansen’s young term as chair came under fire shortly after former party Executive Director Dan Ahlers resigned, citing a hostile work environment. Since then, a number of party leaders have joined calls for her to resign.