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May 29, 2015, letters

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Kooiker a strong supporter of Native causes

As a Cheyenne River Sioux member and a resident of Rapid City, I have seen first-hand the mayor’s commitment to Indian Country.

1) Voting Rights. He fought to place a polling precinct in Lakota Homes, and I personally saw him offer City Hall to then Oglala President Brewer if Rapid City became a new district for OST voting. 2) Rapid City Indian Boarding School-Cemetery Lands. When I shared that we had found graves at the former boarding school lands, the mayor led the city’s support for returning the land and children’s graves back to the tribes. 3) First Nations Sculpture Garden. When the mayor appointed me to the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board he made sure the garden was a priority. 4) Native Community Conversations. Most importantly… when no one is looking… the mayor is present at Lakota Homes, Mother Butler and Pine Ridge, with tribal leaders and tribal citizens.  He understands our history and he looks forward to our future.

For these reasons, from my own experience, I Stand With Sam.

— Heather Dawn Thompson, Rapid City

Sanborn best choice to represent Ward 3

I met Michael Sanborn in May of 1979 when he returned to his boyhood home of Rapid City and joined the Rapid City Journal newsroom, fresh from graduating journalism school at Kansas State University.

Back then, news people had to work closely with composing room personnel and that is about as far as anyone strayed from the sanctity of the newsroom. Michael was different. With a keen sense of responsibility, he had an interest in every department of the operation. It wasn’t long before he knew every employee by name and worked with and respected everyone for the contribution each made to one of the most award-winning newspapers in the country. Michael’s sense of teamwork would have been welcome when I served on the city council and certainly is sorely needed on today’s.

Michael has always been more interested in results than credit and his leadership brought admirable results to the Journal as well as every other endeavor he has undertaken, including running his own business for more than 20 years. Michael is the right choice for Ward 3 councilman. Please join me in voting to put him there.

— Jerry Shoener, Rapid City

Opt-out gives teachers needed boost in pay

What if your child asked you for 20 cents a day for school supplies that would make their success possible? Would you even be willing to hand over 40 cents a day? This is a simple way of thinking about the cost of the opt-out.

Teachers are the key to any success at school. Our teachers have been providing superb service and dedication at bargain basement prices for years. It's time to stop taking advantage of them and lift their salaries to a fair and reasonable level. With the opt-out we can do this.

 Let's be willing to support the teachers who are the heart and soul of the education system. The opt-out plan would be a very modest boost in taxes for a large pay off in teacher morale. Let's supply our students with the very best. We'll all benefit.

— Donna Robinson, Rapid City

Kooiker has city moving in right direction

Sometimes, I think that "lacks leadership qualities" simply means "he won't do things ‘my’ way." Sam Kooiker has earned my respect, my trust and my vote for re-election to the position of mayor of Rapid City. He has exactly the leadership qualities we need.

— Glenda Kolkman, Rapid City

School district hasn't managed its funds well

The group Reviving Rapid City Schools recently argued on their web site that the public should support the opt-out by the local school board, even though they also state that the public should urge the school board to restructure and that there are potentially areas to cut in the administration.

 It seems contradictory to encourage giving an administration more money when you acknowledge that they have mismanaged it thus far and that there are fundamental structural issues within the organization. Seems to me we are missing the real problem.

As the old saying goes “the buck stops here” should apply to Mitchell and the school board and let the buck stop with them, not by passing it on to the taxpayers to foot the bill for their mistakes. We all know once a tax is levied, it never goes away.

— Tina Mulally, Rapid City

Kooiker has the unique skills to be a mayor

Leadership is the buzz word of this mayoral race. Each camp claims that their candidate is the best leader, and there is a lot to be said for the leadership of both candidates. They are both proven leaders in their respective roles, but leadership isn’t a one size fits all concept.

Each situation requires specific leadership skills and styles. The best person to lead an expedition to climb Mt. Everest would probably not be the best person to lead a civil rights movement, a military campaign, or an emerging high tech business. Each situation requires specific leadership skill sets and leadership styles. The leadership skills and style required to lead 140 police department employees is very different from those required to lead several hundred city government employees, and serve the civic needs of tens of thousands of city residents.

 Sam Kooiker has been doing an outstanding job as our mayor. I ask you to vote for him on June 2.

— Tess Franzen, Rapid City

Area residents can't afford the opt-out

The opt-out is as expensive as the new civic center would have been and we can’t afford this just as we couldn’t afford the new civic center. There are smarter solutions to the issues the school district is facing. For example, they could do what Sioux Falls did and reduce our taxes for the Capital Outlay budget by the same amount as they are requesting as an increase in the General Fund (Sioux Falls actually reduced their Capital Outlay budget by $1 million more than the amount they requested through an opt-out).

Not only will our private property taxes go up if this is approved but everything we buy in this town will go up in price (including rent) as commercial property owners get hit with twice the tax as private property owners.  Many families in this community are barely getting by as it is and absolutely cannot afford this opt-out, and yes, there are programs to help seniors on fixed incomes, but their income has to be so low before you can apply for the tax relief that in reality it does not help very many.

Please vote no and force the school board to come up with better solutions.

— Taffy Howard, Rapid City

Kooiker has shown how he cares for others

Sam's opponent keeps accusing Sam of a lack of integrity and leadership but has yet to give evidence. Let me give you some reasons relating to his leadership and integrity.

When I was working in Sam's office for several months in 2011, I was in charge of his schedule and each week he would have lunch with one of his daughters at Wilson Elementary School. He also traveled to various reservations to be a part of their council meeting in an attempt to improve race relations. I've known Sam to be have an open ear to all people. He started sending note-cards to children who were in Special Olympics. He is a mayor who has constantly demonstrated his care for others when no one was watching.

 I still “Stand with Sam.” Please re-elect Sam on June 2.

— Wanda Peacock, Rapid City

Kooiker has been an open, accessible leader

Incumbent Kooiker runs on experience and past performance while the challenger charges vague complaints and claims he’s not the man he used to be.

As a former city employee, I can attest to Mayor Kooiker’s leadership style — open, effective, professional and accessible. I can attest that a large majority of my co-workers thought very highly of Mayor Kooiker.

Rapid City is a better place to live and work since Mayor Kooiker was elected and our community will continue its bright future with his re-election.

— Cody Ackerman, Rapid City

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