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May 31, 2015, election letters

Allender a leader who will be accountable

Our mayoral candidates are vastly different. One is a leader, the other a career politician. Recent events speak volumes about their values and character.  Leaders assess and adjust without transferring blame.

Steve Allender was recently challenged about making off-color remarks as a patrolman over 20 years ago. He stepped up, admitted he had missed the mark, and explained how he made changes to improve. I watched Steve countless times in front of our citizens and City Council, always standing in the gap for the organization and people in his charge. A true leader. Sam Kooiker, though, resorts to diversion, a political escape tool when confronted. When Kooiker tried to promote his friend to chief of police, the City Council voted 8-2 against the appointment. Did Kooiker explain?  No, he instead accused two council members of racism, as if changing two votes would have changed the outcome.  Then he denied any interviews.

  I have witnessed first-hand Sam’s childish private outbursts when he doesn’t get his way.  He uses others to do his bidding so as to appear blameless in the public eye and attempts to ambush those outside his camp. Vote for honesty instead of diversion. Vote for Steve Allender.

— Bill Clayton, Rapid City

Kooiker a compassionate leader as mayor

Today, I voted early as I will be away on Election Day. It was a day I regretted not living in the city limits, so I could vote for Sam. Sam has been a friend to the faith-based organizations in Rapid City and the area. I have never had to ask more than once when asking his office for a Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer and he even shows up to read it himself.

I have been in Sam's office and he took the time to sit down and visit with me all the while dealing with everything going on in the office of mayor. He didn't miss a beat. He has a super-human attention focus. Rapid City needs Sam Kooiker, especially now. Sam has a compassionate and reasonable presence in dealing with people. Especially hurting people.

I believe it would be a mistake to change direction at this point in time for Rapid City. We need Sam.

— Amy Wagner, Rapid City

Opt-out in an investment in our children

On June 2, local voters are being asked by their elected School Board (not the superintendent) to "opt-out" of the arbitrary property tax limit imposed by the state.  We are being asked to make up for a shortfall caused by the governor and Legislature. We are being asked to say "yes" to realign local school revenues with essential expenses. Like 68 other S.D. communities before us, Rapid City area voters should respond, yes. 

The School Board has spent the last four years trying to forestall this request. They are at the end of their rope. If your problem is Dr. Mitchell, he has announced his resignation and will not be included in the budget decisions going forward. If your problem is the board, you should have stood for election.

Three months ago our community rejected an absurdly huge request to spend $180 million on an entertainment venue. The right choice this time is investing $6 million in our school children.  I hope we do the right thing again.  Give our children and grandchildren their best shot at success.  Please "vote yes."

— Richard Wahlstrom, Rapid City

Kooiker cares about the common people

I have known Sam Kooiker for many years and worked directly with him in the private sector. Sam is impeccably honest and a very caring person. Sam listens and connects with every individual, regardless of station in life. Any person of any race (man or woman, old or young) can reach out to Sam and know with complete confidence that he will respond with speed and thoughtfulness.

When I think of Sam’s tenure as mayor, I recall some important milestones: Vetoing the property tax increase in 2012; vetoing longer term lengths for City Council and mayor (correctly reasoning that without the voice of the voter, the move itself was self-serving and not respectable); and bringing the costly civic center expansion before the people for a vote.

We are lucky to have a man leading this city that truly cares about the common people and what we think. It wasn’t that long ago that such deference for us was absent at City Hall. Let’s Stand with Sam and keep moving in the right direction. He certainly has earned my vote once again.

— Thomas Eads, Rapid City

Opt-out won't solve problems at schools

Parents and teachers are natural allies because they both have an interest in bringing the best possible education to each unique individual child in their care. But instead of working together, parents and teachers in the RCAS District have been encouraged to take an adversarial role by educational establishment middle managers: professional administrators, union leaders, self-declared experts in the university educational theory factories and the bureaucrats who populate government departments of education – none of whom teach children.

It is time for parents and teachers, working together, to take an active role in overseeing the education of the children by monitoring and overseeing the budget of the school district and the curriculum and rules imposed on them by the administrators and theorists.  The $30 million opt-out fix is just a band-aid on a broken system and it offers no guarantee of the salary increases that the teachers so richly deserve.

Lets join together to reject the band-aid approach and focus on the needs of the teachers and students. Let’s work together to give teachers the freedom they need to bring real education back to the classrooms.

Vote no on the opt-out so we can work for real reform.

— Barbara Landers, Rapid City

Kooiker has shown he represents all people

Leadership seems to be a recurring theme in this year's mayoral race. I have worked for numerous mayors and Sam Kooiker is one that has displayed honesty, approachability and most importantly, leadership. These traits have been demonstrated by Mayor Kooiker to the people that work for him and the citizens of this community for whom he works for regardless of socio/economic background. When you care about the people who work for you and serve, you stand up for them, defend their positions and take action on their behalf.

Earlier this year Mayor Kooiker took quick action and led the charge with the adoption of Ordinance 6029, which secured the service of the Rapid City Fire Department to provide emergency services to the Rapid City Regional Airport. This effort was in response to the Airport Boards decision to seek out proposals with low-bid rescue and firefighting contractors whom were unable to match the level of service provided by RCFD and would have realistically cost the taxpayers more in the end. A lose/lose for our community if not for Mayor Kooiker's leadership.

Leadership is knowing when to go to work for the people you serve. Please vote for Sam on June 2.

— Rob Powell, Rapid City

Kooiker understands role of public servant

A public servant is many things: a diligent steward of limited public funds; an able technician capable of trimming bloated bureaucracy; a wise strategist who views the terrain and determines feasible courses of action for the advantage of constituents. Mayor Kooiker more than adequately encompasses all of these attributes.

The nebulous term — politician -- has been thrown at Kooiker by his opponent in the negative sense of the word. It is worthwhile looking at the word -- politician — and what it means. In Mayor Kooiker’s case it is defining a vision and determining how to unite numerous and often conflicting interest groups. This difficult task is what Kooiker the public servant does well. An aspiring public servant who does not understand that public service and politics are “strange bedfellows” is a failure from the beginning. An aspiring public servant who uses the term loosely is disingenuous.

Kooiker, as mayor, understands how the system works. Kooiker, as public servant, works the system for the advantage of the entire city. Kooiker, the visionary, thinks of what Rapid City can be. Kooiker, the inclusive leader wants to bring every citizen along on this venture. Re-elect Sam Kooiker for a brighter future.

— Jeff Holbrook, Rapid City

Kooiker a supporter of youth recreation

Mayor Sam Kooiker threw out the first pitch to open the Early Bird Fastpitch Tournament at the Parkview Softball Complex, May 2, where two new softball fields were used in a tournament for the first time. Sam was instrumental in the moving forward of vision funds to build fields 5 and 6, recognizing the need for additional fields to accommodate more participation.

In the 14 years as an umpire in Rapid City, I have seen first-hand Sam's dedication to youth sports, both fast pitch softball and soccer. His calm determination and quiet dignity make him the best choice for mayor.

— Bill Kessloff , Rapid City

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