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Ahlers resigns from state Democratic Party

Dan Ahlers
Dan Ahlers

After just over two months on the job, the executive director of the South Dakota Democratic party is resigning.

Leaders said the departure is due to difference of opinion on how to run the party.

As first reported by the Dakota Scout, Dan Ahlers submitted his email resignation last week. The email was leaked.

The former state lawmaker from Dell Rapids took the position in late May.

Ahlers’s resignation letter contains concerns about how the party is being run by Chair Jennifer Slaight-Hansen.

Slaight-Hansen replaced party chair Randy Seiler, who died suddenly this year.

Ahlers declined to comment for this story.

Chair Slaight-Hansen said there was a misunderstanding between the two.

“There were occasions where we disagreed about who did what,” Slaight-Hansen said. “That was probably tense.”

Slaight-Hansen said the disagreements center around hiring decisions, use of a credit card vendor and workplace environment.

Slaight-Hansen said it was Ahlers’s decision to leave.

“Dan is a wonderful person. There’s a reason why I offered the position to him. He brought so many good qualities. We didn’t start off on the right foot," Slaight-Hansen said. "Ultimately, it obviously got to the point where he felt like he couldn’t work for me anymore. I feel badly about that. I wanted him to stay.”

Slaight-Hansen said the party will start looking for a new executive director and move forward.

Meanwhile, the Argus Leader is reporting Slaight-Hansen is facing the possibility of a recall election within the party.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.