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Surrounded by his family and more than 100 people crowding Rapid City’s council chambers and spilling into the hallway, Mayor Sam Kooiker took office Tuesday, promising to represent every one of the city’s 68,000 residents.

“I look forward to representing everyone, regardless of whether you supported me in the campaign or not,” Kooiker said. “I will be a mayor for the entire community.”

Kooiker, 37, was elected to his first term as mayor last week, winning 51 percent of the vote in a heated runoff against two-term incumbent Alan Hanks. Retired judge Roland Grosshans, a longtime supporter of Kooiker, administered his oath of office Tuesday, with Kooiker's wife, Jennifer, holding a Bible for the new mayor.

Hanks, in his final remarks before quickly and quietly exiting city hall, said the community should be proud of its ability to weather the current recession and called on all residents to put the long, often negative campaign behind them.

“Get behind the new administration, get behind the new mayor, get behind the new city aldermen,” Hanks said. “Quite honestly, that's what this is all about. Elected officials are here to serve you, the citizens. The mayor, the city council, it's not the person, it's the position that's important.”

The Rapid City Council also swore in its new class of aldermen Tuesday, welcoming five new members to the dais.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Charity Doyle, Ward 2 Alderman Ritchie Nordstrom, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Wright, Ward 4 Alderman John Roberts and Ward 5 Alderman Ron Sasso all took their oaths of office before participating in their first council meeting as elected officials.

In its first action, the new council elected Ward 3 Alderman Dave Davis as council president and Ward 5 Alderwoman Bonny Petersen as council vice president. Davis and Petersen both joined the council in 2010.

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Davis, who endorsed Hanks for mayor, was chosen unanimously after Doyle refused a nomination, citing her desire to not have her first day on council be contentious. For vice president, Petersen beat out Doyle, who was nominated again, on a 5-4 vote.

Departing elected officials received their own recognition at Tuesday’s meeting, leaving with plaques and a standing ovation from the audience. In a series of short speeches, council members Ron Weifenbach, Bill Waugh and Aaron Costello all thanked their colleagues, city staff and residents and promised to stay involved in the community. The other two aldermen leaving the council, Ron Kroeger and Deb Hadcock, were not present.

But the loudest applause of the night was reserved for Kooiker, whose oath of office was followed by loud cheers and whistles from his supporters.

“I’ve heard some people say recently that we have a new city council over the last year. They might be new to the city council, but none of them are freshmen at life,” Kooiker said. “I look forward to working with every single one of them in moving our community forward.”

Contact Emilie Rusch at 394-8453 or emilie.rusch@rapidcityjournal.com.

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