The former chairwoman of the state’s Democratic Party has failed to overturn a unanimous vote to remove her last month.
A seven-member committee, made up of leadership from the state party, determined this week that Jennifer-Slaight Hansen was lawfully recalled from the chair position in August. The decision was made after two days of closed door deliberations.
The state party’s constitution allows removed officers a set period of time to appeal recall decisions through a special committee, appointed by the acting chair. After voting to recall Slaight-Hansen last month, the party’s central committee voted to allow the process to play out over a twenty day period.
Slaight-Hansen, who has declined to comment on the situation since her removal, committed to fighting a vote to recall her prior to the party’s central committee voting to do so.
Slaight-Hansen’s remaining option is court appeal
Now, the former Aberdeen City Council member’s only option would be to appeal her removal in court.
Efforts to remove Slaight-Hansen came to a head after former Executive Director Dan Ahlers resigned, citing Slaight-Hansen’s mismanagement of the party. Others accused her of making decisions without going through the proper approval process and of creating a hostile work environment.
THE DAKOTA SCOUT: Thousands roar for Trump as Noem endorses
Shortly thereafter, leadership from both legislative chambers signed onto a letter calling on Slaight-Hansen’s resignation.
The party will vote to elect a new party chair during an annual fundraising event later this month in Rapid City.
“The appeals committee has spoken and we respect their decision,” interim chairman Shane Merrill said. “We are committed to moving forward as a party.”
Interim executive director will seek permanent post
Merrill has announced that he will seek the spot on a permanent basis.
According to a letter obtained by The Dakota Scout, he announced to state central committee members this week that he intends to run for the chairman position when that group meets again on Saturday, Sept. 16 to tap someone to serve for the remainder of a four-year term that began in May.
“A steady hand is needed at this critical time, and I feel I can bring just that along with a fresh perspective to the post,” Merrill wrote.