STURGIS — The Sturgis City Council has chosen Aug. 4 for the Jackpine Gypsies annexation special election at the community center.
The club successfully gathered enough signatures to refer the recently passed annexation to a vote of the residents of Sturgis.
State law allows a municipality such as Sturgis to expedite the date of a referendum election. It states that the election should be held on a Tuesday not less than 30 days from the date of the order of the governing body.
The petitions containing the required number of signatures to bring the issue to a vote were received by the city on June 24 and verified the following day.
Sturgis City Finance Officer Fay Bueno suggested three dates for the special election – Aug. 4, Aug. 11 or Aug. 18.
“I certainly don’t think we want it the week of the Rally, so we are down to the week before or the week after,” council president Dave Martinson said.
Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen asked if there are still time to do absentee voting for this special election because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you haven’t already signed up for the absentee, is there only the choice of coming to the polls?” he asked.
Bueno said there still is enough time to send out an absentee ballot application to all city residents for the special election.
The city already knows it must send out 266 ballots to residents of Sturgis who already have applied for and been approved to receive absentee ballots for all elections scheduled within their precinct during the year 2020.
Councilwoman Rhea Crane said she believed it would be in the best interest of residents to schedule the election for Aug. 4 before the Rally, rather than after.
“Some people might not want to come out after,” she said.
Councilwoman Beka Zerbst asked if the city had cost estimate for the election.
With the added postage to send out absentee ballot applications, the election could cost about $5,000, Bueno said. Without sending out the absentee applications, the cost would be closer to $2,500 to $3,000, and would come from the Finance Office budget, she said.
The council voted 8-1, with Ron Waterland abstaining, to set the election date for Aug. 4.
Kellen B. Willert, the attorney representing the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club, said the Gypsies decided to refer the annexation question to the voters because the Gypsies feel the voters will deny annexing racetracks into the city.
“The objections made by the Gypsies to the Sturgis City Council’s intent to annex seemingly fell on deaf ears. The city council had no discussion on the issue at its June 1, meeting when it voted in favor of the annexation,” he said.
Willert also said the Gypsies are pleased to truly have a voice through a referendum.
“The Gypsies object to the city annexing its racetracks to accommodate growth, and humbly ask for the support of the voters at the special election by voting against the annexation,” he said.
The last referendum vote held in Sturgis was in 2010 when the city’s vote to annex the Full Throttle property failed. In one of the largest single-issue votes ever held in the city, the referendum to annex 1,821 acres of land east of Sturgis along S.D. Highway 34 was defeated 920-818.
Source: Black Hills Pioneer by Deb Holland