Over the weekend, we were contacted by two employees from the City of Bismarck. While asking that they remain anonymous, they sent us some information that doesn’t exactly reflect very well on Mayor Mike Seminary. This comment sums up what they alleged to have happened:
“… a couple weeks ago during our work day, current mayor Seminary came through our department (and I expect most/all of the other departments in the City/County building) asking us if we were Bismarck residents and then if we’d be willing to sign his list for his re-election bid.”
Now, to some I suppose such a thing wouldn’t come across as problematic. But let’s consider this:
“I felt this was very unprofessional and put people in a strange position. He is our boss and I feel that’s not appropriate. It makes it very awkward for anyone that lives in Bismarck and does not want him to be re-elected.”
“… our thoughts were that it would be reasonable to think that if a person was a resident and said no, he could encourage department heads to treat us differently.”
Do these employees have a point? I believe they do.
Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely surprising that some of Bismarck’s city employee’s would feel uneasy about such things. As you may remember, last year when efforts were in place to recall Mayor Mike Seminary, the city compiled a list of Bismarck Police Department officer’s who had signed the recall petition. And after compiling the list, City Administrator Keith Hunke asked the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to interview them– a request that BCI denied.
While the city claimed that the request was simply part of a larger investigation about potential “fraudulent activity”, some were left to wonder if it was more about sending a message to those that had signed the petition.
Having said that, there’s also another aspect to this – that was pointed out by one of the city’s employee’s – which is certainly worthy of consideration:
“We also wondered if the other candidate(s) at the time would have been accepted and allowed into each department to request signatures if they were to show up at the building.”
This is an excellent question. If Seminary’s opponent, Steve Bakken, were to show up and want to gather signatures, would he have been permitted to enter city offices and have people sign his petition, as Mayor Seminary did his? I doubt it.
Intentional or not, these employee’s were put in an uncomfortable situation. And while some may argue that being asked to sign a petition isn’t the same as being asked to vote for the candidate seeking the signatures, it’s simply not appropriate for Mayor Mike Seminary to put any employee for the City of Bismarck in this position.
At best, this was an error in judgment. At worst, it could be perceived as an abuse of power. Either way, the situation has obviously shown there are serious issues of trust with Bismarck’s Mayor Mike Seminary.