Ex-convict, 70, elected mayor of Crooks, South Dakota

An ex-convict and cancer survivor was elected last month as mayor of Crooks, S.D.

Francis “Butch” Oseby, 70, says he faced insurmountable odds to become leader of the town of only 1,300 residents, about a 20-minute drive north of Sioux Falls.

In 1998 Oseby spent nearly a year in federal prison on federal bribery charges, followed by a stint a halfway house. He lived virtually penniless in the following years, living in a lumberyard and doing manual labor, the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls reported.

“I had made a comeback. Until I got sick,” he told the paper.

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By the mid-2000s he had started his company and his luck began to turn around. His good fortune hit another roadblock when doctors found a tumor in his adrenal gland in 2014, according to the Argus Leader.

Oseby was in and out of treatment for the next several years. It wasn't until this year that he started feeling better and decided to run for mayor. In late February, Oseby submitted his petition to get on the ballot, knowing full well that his past would come up again.

“With (running) comes my past of 25 years ago and do I want to relive that?” Oseby said. “It was a big decision. I decided I could handle it.”

"With (running) comes my past of 25 years ago and do I want to relive that? It was a big decision. I decided I could handle it."

— Francis “Butch” Oseby, mayor of Crooks, S.D.

On March 11, a citizen alerted Crooks’ finance manager about Oseby’s criminal history, raising concerns about his eligibility to run for mayor. The city’s finance officer sent Oseby a letter notifying him that his criminal past made him ineligible.

Oseby challenged the city finance officer’s authority in court, arguing that not being allowed to run would be a “deprivation of (his) civil rights.” The city ruled that the city’s finance officer did have the authority to determine whether Oseby was eligible. A judge later overruled that decision, determining that the county auditor has the final say.

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Oseby’s name was put back on the ballot. On April 30, he beat incumbent mayor Jamison Rounds by 62 votes: 273 to 211. He’ll be sworn in as mayor on Monday.