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Petition Started To Recall Rapid City Alderman

March 28, 2013, 6:01 PM by Derek Olson

Petition Started To Recall Rapid City Alderman
RAPID CITY, SD -

A petition is being circulated around Rapid City to recall city councilman Bill Clayton.  Clayton sparked controversy earlier this year after making racist statements to an African American news reporter.

The petition drive began last week. It needs signatures from 15-percent of registered voters before it's turned in.  Organizers say they're up for the challenge.

Many people in Rapid City were upset by racist comments made by the city councilman. Now they're picking up their pens to do something about it.

"People who have those racist attitudes and opinions should be called to task for it and realize that those comments are not appropriate in our society," recall petition signer Bill Howard said.

"There is no room for racism in politics, especially in a city council in a smaller city like this," former Rapid City Alderman Gary Brown said.

Clayton denies he knew local television reporter Taisha Walker was African American when he suggested in a phone interview that she should be sent back to Kenya with President Obama.  Former city councilman Gary Brown doesn't believe Clayton.

"Once you're elected to office you know every newsperson that's out there; you know if they're male, female, tall, short, white, black, Native American, you know.  So the excuse that the gentleman said he didn't know that she was African American, I find that very weak," Brown said.

Although he was unable to meet with us for an on-camera interview, KELOLAND News spoke with Bill Clayton on the phone today.  He says that he doesn't believe the recall is about the statements he made to Taisha Walker, instead that it boils down to politics.

Clayton is a member of the council minority that typically sides with Mayor Sam Kooiker, allowing the mayor to use his veto power.  He's in Gary Brown's old seat, who retired from politics after his wife's cancer diagnosis.

Brown admits he would likely align himself with the council majority if selected to replace Clayton, but says this isn't about politics.  It's about democracy.

"If we can get 6,200 in 60 days that proves that this is an issue in Rapid City.  If we can't, let it go and let's move on," Brown said.

If the recall petition gets enough signatures, there would be another election for the seat.  Both Clayton and Brown would be candidates, along with anyone else who wanted to run.

The petition has 60-days to gather at least 6,200 signatures.

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