Businessman Josh Lyle has entered the race for Rapid City mayor.
The 37-year-old was born in Iowa but grew up a ward of the state, saying he has "a very unique background with the government." He grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and has lived in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Tucson.
Lyle runs an auto body company that works on catastrophic hail damage — work that brought him to Rapid City in the first place after several hail storms moved across the area leaving a line of damage in their wake.
It was 2020, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"COVID had the world on its knees and Rapid City seemed to be functioning pretty well at the time," he said. "Then I bought commercial property because the market looked great and [it] just looked like a place I really wanted to ground myself."
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Lyle lived in Denver prior to moving to Rapid City, citing major changes in the city as a reason for leaving. He likened Denver to being in Los Angeles.
"I went north and it was beautiful country. If everybody knew about South Dakota, it'd be overinflated," he said.
He's not a politician — something he says sets him apart from other candidates, along with it being a pay cut. Lyle said he's financed his entire campaign — save for one donation from a friend — and has no special interest. He doesn't believe that serving on a City Council means someone is necessarily qualified to be mayor, saying the position is a business that needs a business professional.
Lyle's issues include everything from parking meters to homelessness and public safety. He described living downtown before the parking meters were installed as "sweet," and was disappointed to see it change.
"In six months — and I have paid parking in that structure over by the town square — I got over $2,500 in tickets, tows... even in my paid parking spot, tickets all this stuff in six months it drove me out of downtown," Lyle said.
Another downtown issue was safety, he said, with his girlfriend afraid to go out without him because she was "harassed and scared." From there, Lyle said he "just kind of watched our town decline." He disagrees with those blaming it on COVID, because he was able to come to town with an old truck and tools and build the business he has.
He wants safer streets, something he intends to accomplish with more foot patrols downtown, along with enforcing public intoxication and loitering.
Lyle talked about being approached by two obviously intoxicated people on the street, one of whom charged at him fist flexed like he was trying to start a fight. Once the guy realized he was much shorter than Lyle, he backed off, Lyle said. The interaction left him confused and concerned.
"I could only imagine how many times that happens a week, or to actual females or younger kids, even younger men. I just think our city has really kind of gotten away with this, with allowing this to happen," he said. "If I was mayor, I'd walk the streets myself."
Lyle also hit on small business labor and panhandling as focuses for his campaign.
"I would like to be able to strengthen the city and bring the people together," he said. "I think we're a staple for all cities and different states around the country. I feel like we're in a serious decline with what our current administration has done to our country and overthrown elections."
He believes in finding the "strongest, toughest, most-morally centered individual," something he said he is, and someone who understands how to take care of business.
Lyle is the fifth to join the race for mayor. Former Ward 1 Council member Ron Weifenbach announced in March 2022, and current Ward 5 Council member Laura Armstrong announced in December. Ward 3 Council member Jason Salamun made his announcement mid-February, and real estate broker agent Brad Estes joined the race in late February.
Steve Allender was elected mayor in 2015 and made the announcement last August that he wouldn’t seek re-election.
Rapid City's municipal election will take place June 6.
Contact Darsha Dodge at email@example.com