The Assistant Sioux County Attorney has been fired — one day after telling his boss, the County Attorney, he planned to run for her job. Coleman McAllister says he was dismissed by Sioux County Attorney Melissa O’Rourke on Thursday after he told her he intends to seek the office she now holds.
McCallister says “After being asked by many people in Sioux County, I decided that I would seek the office of Sioux County Attorney and in fairness to Miss O’Rourke I thought it best that I tell her that face-to-face which I did, and then she terminated my employment and I left the building.” McCallister says he -does- intend to run against O’Rourke in the June primary. McAllister has served as Assistant Sioux County Attorney since November of 2000.
But O’Rourke says McCallister resigned. She says her assistant told her he was packing possessions from his office into a box after he told her his plans, which indicated to her his intent to resign. She says once he decided to tell her he was running, which he’d earlier said he would not do, she thinks McCallister “knew exactly what the result would be.”
O’Rourke says an elected official has some close trusted advisors, and needs to be able to trust those people. Those persons serve at the pleasure of the elected official, she says, noting advisors to President Bush serve “at his pleasure,” and saying if a closer advisor to Senator Grassley went to him to say he intended to challenge him and the senator would lose, “there isn’t any trust remaining.”
O’Roueke points out when the former Sioux County sheriff demoted his deputy for deciding to run for the office, the situation was different. It was only after Dan Altena said he was going to run that Sheriff Schwiesow decided he wasn’t retiring and would run for another term, then demoted his deputy. She also notes that law-enforcement officers like deputies are civil-service employees, which is unlike employment-at-will situations, where an assistant serves “at the pleasure of” an elected officer.
Sioux County supervisor’s chairman Mark Sybesma was told by the county auditor’s office McCallister had been dismissed, but he had not spoken to O’Rourke. Sybesma says he has not been given any official reason for the dismissal, but does not believe that job performance was a factor.
O’Rourke could not be reached for comment. She announced Thursday in a press release that she planned to seek re-election for a second and final term in office. O’Rourke first ran for Sioux County Attorney in June 2002, and defeated a 20-year incumbent. During the campaign, O’Rourke said she believes in term limits, and in announcing she intends to seek re-election, O’Rourke said if she was re-elected, her second term would be her last.