Pierre City Commission says individual does not qualify to be mayor candidate

PIERRE, S.D. (KCCR) – The Pierre City Commission says the petition of a man looking to run for Mayor of Pierre does not qualify to be placed on the ballot for election. Provisions in the city’s home rule charter according to lawyer Dick Tiezen says it’s the Commission role to decide if a candidate’s petitions are valid.

Caleb Gilkerson had two issues with the petitions he submitted to run for mayor in Pierre. The first was easily fixed by resubmitting his petitions after a notary error was discovered. The second was more complex; whether Gilkerson is in fact a resident of Pierre. Gilkerson claims on the petition to live at 511 East Dakota Avenue, the location of a business he owns in Pierre.

Teizen was asked by the city to objectively look at the situation and presented independent findings at the hearing. He looked into all avenues including whether the property Gilkerson’s business is on was properly zoned for residential use or if any conditional use permits allowing residences were grandfathered in over time.

Commissioner Vona Johnson asked the question the heart of the issue.

Gilkerson maintained through the nearly hour long hearing that he lives in Pierre and should be on the ballot.

Mayor Steve Harding had recused himself from the hearing to avoid any conflicts of interest. The hearing could have been delayed but the Hughes County Auditor’s office needed to know who was going to be on the ballot by Tuesday. The action by the Pierre City Commission means there will be no mayoral election in Pierre this year.