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Vote Yes campaign holds kickoff

Maureen Gustafson takes a photo of Kandi Cornford, left, Mikayla Becker and Julie Jensen, president of Visit Rapid City, in April during an early voting kickoff at Main Street Square in Rapid City in support of a new arena. 

Campaign finance reports show that the fundraising margin was even bigger than the voting margin in the Rapid City arena election.

The Vote Yes Rapid City committee raised about 14 times as much money as the Fix the Plan committee, according to pre-election reports filed in May. Reports covering the rest of the time prior to the June 5 election are due in August.

The result of the election was a 64 to 36 percent triumph for the Vote Yes side, in support of a $130 million project to add a new arena to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

In public campaign finance documents filed May 21, Vote Yes Rapid City reported that it had raised $103,580.52 and spent $57,002.95, leaving a balance of $46,577.57 for the final campaign push.

The only opposition group to file campaign finance reports with the city, the Fix the Plan committee, filed a report May 14 showing it had raised $7,500 and had spent nothing.

The biggest donations to Vote Yes Rapid City included $29,447.25 worth of donated consulting and data collection from Dakota Charitable Foundation Inc., which is managed by Ray Hillenbrand, and contributions of $25,000 from Black Hills Power Inc., $15,000 from Lester Hospitality (which manages properties including the Rapid City Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn, next to the Civic Center), $10,000 from Coca-Cola Bottling Company High Country (which has exclusive beverage rights in the Civic Center), $9,020.52 from the Black Hills Board of Realtors, and $7,500 from Black Hills Harley-Davidson.

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Additionally, HomeSlice Media Group separately reported running $17,625 worth of pro-arena radio and internet ads through May 25, which it described as an in-kind contribution to the pro-arena campaign.

On the opposite side of the campaign, the Fix the Plan committee reported May 14 that it had received $1,500 contributions from each of four former Rapid City mayors: Alan Hanks, Jim Shaw, Ed McLaughlin and Keith Carlyle. The committee also received a $1,500 donation from Steve McCarthy.

Contact Seth Tupper at

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Enterprise Reporter

Enterprise reporter for the Rapid City Journal.