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Moments after being sworn in as Rapid City's top administrator on Monday, new Mayor Steve Allender took a light-hearted approach to his first few hours on the job.

Allender, known for his witticism, said Monday night that he would rather have skipped the formalities and taken over the reins of the city in a back room without any attention.

“But this is the way it is,” Allender told a roomful of attendees who packed into the council chambers Monday to witness the city's official transition from outgoing two-term Mayor Sam Kooiker.

“And in a moment," he later added, "I’m going to take my position back here on the dais, where for the remainder of the evening, I will fumble with the rules of parliamentary procedure and look at people and cover my microphone while I’m asking for advice.”

All kidding aside, however, Allender seemed perfectly fitted to his new role, as he sat down and governed over his first Rapid City Council meeting, hardly missing a beat as the meeting progressed into the regular din of handling city business.

He retired last year from the police department after nearly 30 years on the force, seven of which he served as police chief. Allender ousted two-term mayor Kooiker with 54 percent of the vote.

On Monday, he took special notice of the mayoral transition and what the newly adorned power means to him.

“We have this power because the people give it to us, and the people are sitting right in this room and watching on television,” Allender said. “That’s where the power is. That’s where I intend to keep it.”

Before Allender's mayoral oath, the council recognized and thanked Kooiker for his service for the past four years as the city's strong mayor, which is similar to a city manager.

Kooiker began his tenure in local government when former Mayor Jerry Munson in 2001 appointed him to the city's Planning Commission. Kooiker went on to serve consecutive terms on the council before being elected mayor in 2011.

"It has been an absolute honor and privilege to serve the citizens of this wonderful community for the past 14 years," he said. "My sincere congratulations go to our new mayor, Steve Allender. I wish you all the best and want to thank you for joining me in working hard over the past month to make this transition a smooth one."

Kooiker said he owes thanks to both his supporters and adversaries, who he said have kept him sharp. "I walk away from this experience stronger and smarter as a result of our interactions," he said.

Meanwhile, looking forward, Alderman Chad Lewis, who was elected council vice president Monday night, said before the meeting that it's too early for him to zero in how the former police commander will conduct himself.

Overall, Lewis said, residents may not see too much of a change, aside from a more mission-oriented and structured management style that could result from Allender's longtime experience in local law enforcement.

"At this point, I don't know him well enough to know exactly what his management style is," he said. "I think he's probably a pretty good chain-of-command kind of guy, just because that's the background he comes from."

Alderman Jerry Wright, a former superintendent of the city's Solid Waste Division, said he also expects a more structured management style with Allender than exhibited by Kooiker the past four years.

"I don't know. Everybody has their personality, right?" Wright said. "I don't know Steve (Allender) really well to predict how he's going to conduct (himself) ... My experience with him, when I was on staff with the city — he was police chief — was positive, so I think we'll be fine."

In other business Monday, the council elected Alderman Brad Estes as council president, replacing Wright for the position. The council also voted to elect Lewis as council vice president, a post formerly held by Estes.

Council members Charity Doyle, Ritchie Nordstrom, John Roberts, and Wright and Estes were sworn in for additional two-year terms.

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Contact John Lee McLaughlin at 394-8421 or

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