Rapid City Council President Amanda Scott believes that her opponent in the June 25 runoff election is mischaracterizing her record and making the race personal.
Scott's criticism of Lance Lehmann, her challenger in Ward 4, is centered on a four-page letter that his campaign circulated in the run-up to the June 4 general election. The three-term councilwoman said in a phone call last week that the letter, which blames her for fee hikes, business closures and city misspending, constitutes an attack on her character.
"I think he would have spent better time extolling those benefits and those virtues that he would bring to the Ward 4 residents," she said Friday.
Lehmann, who manages the Millstone restaurant on Lacrosse Street, said Friday that he thinks of the letter as comparing and contrasting himself and Scott. He also discusses his background in the hospitality industry and Native American heritage in the note.
“I just used her voting record. I wouldn’t attack the woman herself, but I think her public record is fair game," he said.
Neither Scott nor Lehmann earned 50 percent plus one of the vote in the municipal election. But because they each earned more votes than the third candidate, they will proceed to a runoff election that will determine whether Scott, who is seeking her fourth term on the council, will hold onto her seat.
On Friday, Lehmann conceded that the closure of Sears, Kmart and other big box stores in Rapid City is not necessarily the fault of his opponent as his letter suggests, but he does want the city council to work to loosen business regulations and encourage new ones to open.
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In his letter, Lehmann also criticized Scott for what he calls "conflict-of-interest votes" that benefited her employer, Pete Lien and Sons. Scott, who serves as a vice president at the construction material supplier, said in response that she generally recuses herself from voting on any matters that come before the city council that pertain to the company although she would "never benefit from any of those."
Asked if she felt that the tone of her opponent's campaign was influenced by Councilman John Roberts, who also represents Ward 4 and supports Lehmann, Scott said that she did. Earlier this month, campaign finance disclosure forms filed by Lehmann showed he received a $4,000 contribution from Roberts' political action committee.
When asked for comment on Lehmann's letter, Roberts said he had never seen it and did not know about it.
As for why he supports Lehmann over Scott, Roberts said the former is "a young person with a fresh set of ideas and a fresh set of eyes."
“I think that he’s more concerned about the average Rapid Citian than Amanda Scott is,” he continued.
He further criticized the city council for often speaking out against the growing cost of living, which he said has particularly affected residents of north Rapid City whom he represents, without taking actions to curb it.