Gladstone mayor candidates spar over residency claims

GLADSTONE--Gladstone is about to get a new mayor, but the campaign hasn't been without controversy. Darcy Fossum, a Gladstone resident for the past 17 years, said he believes his opponent, Mark Erdman, is not a true resident of the small town abo...

GLADSTONE-Gladstone is about to get a new mayor, but the campaign hasn't been without controversy.

Darcy Fossum, a Gladstone resident for the past 17 years, said he believes his opponent, Mark Erdman, is not a true resident of the small town about 10 miles east of Dickinson.

Fossum said he believes Erdman is on the ballot illegally and claims Erdman does not actually live at the residence that was filed on his election petition.

"I've been in the city for 16 years. They've never lived there. They still don't live there," Fossum said. "They are not residents of Gladstone."

Erdman said he stated publicly at a city commission meeting earlier this year that he does not live at his Gladstone residence full-time because he spends some of his time at his office in north Dickinson, as well as at other rentals he has around the area.


However, Erdman said he and his wife, Lorraine, who is running for a position on the Gladstone city commission, have lived at the location since last August. The couple started remodeling the home in 2013.

The North Dakota Century Code states that mayoral candidates must live in their listed residence for at least nine months in order to get onto the ballot, however the law does not specify whether or not that must be full-time.

"I wouldn't have gotten on the ballot had I not met the requirements," Erdman said.

Erdman claims Fossum, a city commission member, has made several attempts to hamper his chances to get on the ballot. Erdman said he is currently building a house next to his rental property and that Fossum has put many "road blocks" in front of him to try and prevent Erdman from building his new house.

"He's tried everything," Erdman said. "He's tried to discredit my remodeling job, so they brought the building inspector down and he said he didn't have a problem with it. Then he (Fossum) tried to say it was uninhabitable and again the building inspector said, 'No, it's habitable.'"

Erdman said he also struggled to even get on the ballot. He said the Gladstone auditor would not originally take his petition and it took several phone calls before it was finally accepted.

However, Fossum refuted Erdman's claims and is sticking with his statement that Erdman has never lived at the location in question.

"They don't live in Gladstone," Fossum said. "Plain and simple, 100 percent."


Mel Zent, who did the building inspection on the Erdman home, said it is not really possible to prove whether or not the Erdmans live in Gladstone.

Lee Ann Oliver, an election specialist with the North Dakota Secretary of State's office, said if a person files the correct papers to run for an office and they are accepted by the city attorney's office, they are accepted by the Secretary of State's office as well.

Oliver said if a losing candidate or 10 qualifying voters believe the winner was somehow on the ballot illegally, they must then go through questions of fact with the county court.

"If they are elected, someone will have to challenge their qualifications through the court," Oliver said.

Kurt Martin, who has been Gladstone's mayor for the past 16 years, chose to not to run for re-election this year because he would be moving outside of the town, thereby disqualifying him from the position.

Fossum said he is running for mayor because he wants to see a positive change in the community.

"It's time to work to make the community better and have things done for the community," Fossum said. "I think it's time for a new change and some fresh faces to bring out some new things."

Mark Erdman, 62, who said he previously served as a Gladstone police officer around 30 years ago, moved back after spending time on the East Coast designing fire stations.


He said he is running because he wants to see the town move forward and be able to actually go through with decisions they talk about making.

"At our town hall, we have wooden handicapped steps and they're rotting from getting old and they need to be replaced," Erdman said. "This commission has been talking about it for five months and still to this day, we have a rotting handicap ramp. It just seems like they can't make a decision or they don't want to make a decision. So just kind of introducing some new blood in the city commission to see if we can get some action together."

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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