- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Bismarck’s mayor is defending himself against criticism that has led to a recall petition drive against him.

The petition against Mayor Mike Seminary came after critics accused him of welcoming pipeline protesters to Bismarck, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2jNmbbh ) reported.

The mayor argued that when welcoming Technical College Powwow in September he thanked them for not boycotting the event because of DAPL protest. He said he went to the Capitol grounds with Executive Director of the state Indian Affairs Committee Scott Davis to welcome the powwow attendees and stood in accordance to their right to a peaceful protest.

Seminary said he is not sympathetic to violent Dakota Access pipeline protesters, has not ignored public infrastructure needs and has not turned his back on the police department.

“I was the first and only leader to ask them to leave - the uninvited guests. I asked,” he said.

Davis said he asked the mayor for his help with the protests, and thanked him for his leadership.

He gave credit to Seminary for welcoming him and his tribal community.

“There are 4,000 Native Americans that live here for opportunity, education and better way of life,” said Davis.

The mayor also stood by renovations and expansions made to the Bismarck Event Center, and opposed allegations that the Bismarck-Burleigh Health building has been sold under value. The building has been offered to the University of Mary in a purchase agreement.

“Those improvements were made without one new penny of public funds,” he said.

Seminary addressed critics’ accusations at a Coffee with the Mayor session Friday.

___

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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