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Voter turnout down, but passions high

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Rapid City streets were lined with campaign signs as the polls opened Tuesday morning.

But were there more signs than voters this year?

"I talked to several other auditors today, and everyone is really slow," Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson said. "We'll be lucky if we hit the estimate and very surprised if we get more."

They got fewer. Only 13,784 Pennington County voters showed up to cast ballots, which did not meet the meager 16,000 that Pearson's office had predicted. There are 62,406 registered voters in the county.

Those who did take the time to vote were passionate.

"It's time to determine who's at bat, so I really wish more people would have come out," said George B. Wallace, a poll worker at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church. "I've been working the polls since 2000, and it is definitely slower than past years."

For some voters in Ward 4, the censure of Rapid City Alderman Sam Kooiker prompted them to head to the polls.

"I am here because of Sam Kooiker," Scott Schultz said. "He was doing what he was supposed to be doing, and that is asking questions. Questions are always a good thing."

"I didn't like the way they treated Sam," Vera O'Grady said. "Everything they did was just too hush-hush, and I want to make sure good people are elected into council."

And those feelings helped ensure that incumbent Lloyd LaCroix was not re-elected Tuesday night. LaCroix was one of the aldermen who voted to censure Kooiker.

The council "had something to hide, and I want to know why," said Richard Adamski, who voted against LaCroix. "I vote all the time, but this especially brought me out."

Steve Zieg, an independent voter, wanted to see new faces on the city council.

"I think that city council repeats themselves far too much," Zieg said. "We are just hoping for change."

In the statewide elections, issues and integrity were key for many voters.

"Something will need to be done with the health care bill, for sure," JoAnn Sailer said. "I am also looking at gun control and would really like to get some of the Democrats out of office. We need a serious party change."

Tel Saucerman made his decision based on character.

"For governor, I voted for Gordon Howie because of some of his values," Saucerman said.

For Marcia Dunsmore, voting represented the progress that women in America have made.

"Women worked really hard to get here, and we need to take advantage of it every chance we get," Dunsmore said. "I always vote."

That was a commitment shared by many.

"I have never missed an election and vote every year," said Curt Pochardt, a poll worker at Rapid City Public Library's voting station. "Everyone should participate."

Contact Ruth Brown at 394-8329 or



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