Wingnuts, take note: you've got nothing on the lady officials of Pennington County.

Long-time Register of Deeds Donna Mayer and County Auditor Julie Pearson coasted to easy victories in Tuesday night's Republican primary, surviving challengers put up by an ultra-conservative cadre of local politicians who call themselves the Wingnuts.

Mayer and Pearson each beat their opponents, Jordan Mason and John Roberts, respectively, by roughly 70 percent to 30 percent.

"I'm feeling good about that," Pearson, 57, said Tuesday night from the auditor's office.

Pearson, who has been auditor for almost 28 years, says she understands that the primary is part of the electoral process. But it frustrated her to have to run hard against members of her own party.

"We took a lot of money in these Republican primaries, that could have been put forth in the general election," Pearson said.

The 63-year-old Mayer, who has been in office since 2000, was challenged by Mason, a former one-term Rapid City alderman.

Mason campaigned hard. He raised nearly $6,000, according to county records. Financial disclosure forms show his campaign received donations of stamps from Jennifer Kooiker, the wife of Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker, and Peggy Napoli, wife of former state Sen. Bill Napoli, a head of the Wingnuts group.

Mason spent $1,550 on lawn signs to cover Rapid City. And he accused Mayer of violating his free speech for reporting him to the South Dakota Secretary of State for not having followed campaign rules on some of his promotional material.

Secretary of State Jason Gant sided with Mayer. 

Mayer summed up Mason's campaign as someone who wanted to move too quickly to update the Register of Deeds office.

"Versus somebody that is moving forward [but] doing so conservatively so it doesn't cost the public so much money," Mayer said.

Not all of Pennington County's incumbents were so lucky.

County Commission candidate George Ferebee ousted incumbent Ken Davis by 53 percent to 47 percent. Davis, who had been a commissioner for 12 years, said Tuesday night he suspected he may lose from the recent arguments on how to assess people in the county with agricultural land.

"They don't like to pay the taxes that the rest of us pay, and we have to subsidize them," Davis, 73, said. Davis added that he wasn't originally going to run for this term, "but I wasn't going to let George Ferebee just walk into this kind of a race."

Ferebee could not be reached for comment at press time.

Former Rapid City Alderman Deb Hadcock handily defeated Edward Randazzo for the County Commission's District 3 seat. Hadcock pulled in seven out of every 10 votes. 

Hadcock, a former Rapid City alderwoman, will replace retiring Commissioner Don Holloway. She has said that she wants to focus on property taxes, economic development and infrastructure.

Voters also elected four candidates to the West Dakota Water Development District. Two members were elected to the third position in the district: James Hawk and Mike Mueller.  Two others were elected to the fifth position in the district: Tina Mulally and Robert Akers.

Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or

(1) comment


Ferebee won 56% to Davis' 44%. Davis wanted to change the required ag acres to 160 acres to "get" 7 people w/ houses over $500k. The change took along 766 honest ag people.

Looks like those 766 turned out to vote. I hope other commissioners take note, if you vote without considering who else it may affect, you may be out of job.

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