I want to be the Mayor of Rapid City because Rapid City is a great community. I raised my family here. We enjoy benefits of living in this area that you just don’t find everywhere in America. Rapid City is a great city, but it can be better.
General philosophy and vision:
City government should be a true form of representative government whereby the people elect representatives, entrust them with their finances and empower them to make policy decisions. In return, the people expect efficient, cost effective, quality services. Just as importantly, the people expect and deserve government officials to lead with integrity and serve fairly, with the interests of the greater community in mind.
Rapid City – A Wonderful Place. That’s my vision for Rapid City. City government, hand in hand with its citizens, has an obligation to identify road blocks keeping us from experiencing that vision. Can Rapid City be a wonderful place when the community is divided? No. How about with a stumbling economy? No. How about with crumbling streets and failing water and sewer systems? No. Once identified, these and other roadblocks should be the subject of an organized planning process whereby priorities are made, and corrective plans are put into motion. Continual feedback should be sought by the government and continual updates are to be given to the citizens.
When I am Mayor of Rapid City, I will focus my attention in the following areas:
(NOTE: Explanation of these topics here is intentionally brief for the purpose of this blog post)
Leadership. First and foremost, keeping City workforces healthy and productive is essential. Maintaining a professional City Council process is also needed. I’ve written in more detail about the leadership needs of the City. You can read more by clicking here.
The Civic Center ADA issues. In addition to ADA, there is also the issue of addressing the inefficiencies and building code modifications of the Don Barnett arena. After a deep breath and clearing of the political air, hard work and leadership will resolve these issues. I believe we can come up with a plan that addresses the ADA needs and building inefficiencies for far less than $180 million.
Communication. Communication and openness is paramount to accountability. I will launch a comprehensive public information system to ensure better communication with the public. There should be greater effort to communicate the goings-on at City Hall with the people who fund it. I wrote about this topic in detail in an earlier blog post. Click here for more details.
Invest in our future. I will seek to implement youth engagement programs within City Hall. There are many options from advisory councils to paid positions within City Hall.
Intergovernmental cooperation. I will launch efforts to establish a positive working relationship with Pennington County. The fact is, the two governments are not known for their mutual admiration and respect. Certainly City and County government focus is slightly different, but there are many possible opportunities to explore joint ventures. I know from experience working cooperatively with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office that there is one main beneficiary to such cooperation: The taxpayers.
Efficient government. I will evaluate existing processes and work toward a system of self-evaluation for the purpose of increasing efficiency and to ensure spending accountability. The people of Rapid City deserve value for their tax dollar, and they deserve to know and understand what that value is.
Street repair and replacement. I will address the deteriorating and dangerous streets in Rapid City. About $35 million is spent each year on local infrastructure, yet the streets you drive on every day are not the ones being fixed. A better short term repair policy is needed.
Economic development. I will work in cooperation with many others to create a technology and intellectual property corridor with the SD School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT). Our City and economy lost a significant portion of our manufacturing jobs in 2009 and we have not recovered. We must make a concerted effort to bring new companies to Rapid City.
Infrastructure. City government has an obligation to keep the City functioning in terms of water treatment and delivery, sewer systems and treatment, roads and drainage. I believe there is evidence that the current pace to maintain our infrastructure is not keeping up with demands.
Race relations. Decades of failed attempts at reconciliation and understanding do nothing more than predict future failures. The Human Relations Commission is fine for addressing complaints, but this reactive approach won’t improve overall relations. The next attempt at race relations must be a different approach, one that seeks to get to the core of the problem rather than merely treating the symptoms. We will assemble community partners to explore root causes and solutions that can bring about healing and improve chances for success significantly.
There are other issues to be concerned about, but I consider them to need further investigation before stating an opinion on them. These issues are affordable housing (the lack of it) and the state of the aging Rapid City Water Treatment Plant.
Aside from City operations and maintaining the political processes, the above items will be my first list of issues to focus on as Mayor. The process of gathering information on important City issues is an ongoing and evolving process. More information will be made available as time goes on.