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Letters to the editor, May 22, 2021

Letters to the editor, May 22, 2021


Letters to the editor, May 22, 2021

For Natalie Slack

I met Natalie Slack in 2018 shortly after I moved to Rapid City, at a storytelling event she hosted. Over the past two years, I have worked extensively with Natalie on many youth-driven nonprofit initiatives, many of which involve the stewardship and mentorship of our young minds. This same attention is evident in her work with our community’s youth, and I have seen countless young adults spring to confidence because of their interactions with Natalie. This is to mention nothing of the countless 60+ hour weeks I have seen her put into her various jobs, let alone her roles as partner and parent within her own home.

By far though, the most impressive characteristic that Natalie brings to the table (or board, rather) is her unending curiosity – I’ve never once seen Natalie unwilling to hear the opinion of another, make room for another seat at the table, or expand her worldview to accommodate previously unknown information. She lives with a genuine openness that makes her easy to connect with, because, as with all of our best leaders, she is teachable. I can think of no one better to serve District 1 on the Rapid City School Board.

Dexter Carman, Rapid City

Is this what we want?

We are rapidly approaching an important school board election as evidenced by a multitude of yard signs, many placed without landowner permission. This is one of a few elections that is supposed to be non-partisan.

However, the Republican party and Citizens for Liberty simply ignored this policy. This latter group has been hostile and negative to the school board and administration, despite what the issue has been.

I feel that the school board has made sound, progressive decisions and I urge citizens to educate themselves as to their candidate's positions. There is a danger that our school system could be set back by at least twenty years if certain candidates win. Is this what we want?

Jan Mangelson, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

I am endorsing Natalie Slack for Rapid City School Board Area 1.

I have known Natalie since high school and she has always been an intelligent, independent, and hard-working person who would be a perfect fit for this position. As a wife, mother of three students, and a business owner I believe she has the determination to advocate for the diverse student body in this area.

Not only is she deeply involved in community affairs, but she also juggles extra-curricular activities with her children and volunteers on a regular basis for a variety of causes. Someone who is truly concerned for all students, not just her own, is a refreshing change of pace from most parents. Thank you for the time and consideration.

Damon Larson, Rapid City

For Gabe Doney

Gabe Doney is the clear choice for school council. He is an amazing father, family-man, firefighter, and friend. In the past year we saw our school system engage in restrictions and mandates that created an atmosphere of fear, unease, and isolation for our students. They harmed the social development of the growing psyche of our children. And it was the only school system in the Black Hills area to do so.

Gabe decided to run for school council because he didn’t like what he was seeing happen to his own children and knew that there were others who would stand behind him because they also couldn’t stand seeing the harmful effects on the kids they loved. While this is not the only issue of import for our kids and schools, it highlights the most important one: doing what is best for the kids and allowing the parents of those kids to be a major part of the decisions being made.

A survey about masks showed nearly 70% of parents and 60% of teachers supported stopping the mask mandate. The current school board voted 5-2 to keep masks. Gabe would have voted with the parents because he is one.

Melissa Anderson, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

Natalie Slack is the right person for the  School Board.  I have known her for over a decade now, in both business and personally.  Although we do not always align politically or business wise she has integrity in doing what she says.  Her ability to communicate starts with being able to listen, you will walk away with a sense of truly being heard. 

It's not until she has heard you will she speak in a thoughtful and passionate way.   What you need on the School Board is collaboration on what's best for educating our children and an ability to create solutions that work both fiscally and morally.  I encourage you to vote for Natalie Slack for School Board.

Justin Moody DDS, Rapid City

For Kara Flynn

Rapid City Area Schools deserves someone as committed and dedicated to education as Kara Flynn. Kara was an avid volunteer in the Southwest library for five years, ensuring students would have access to books and resources while I ate lunch. Kara wants to help children achieve their potential, to build their cultural, digital, and informational literacy, and she wants them to enjoy the process.

Beyond her volunteer efforts, it is clear that Kara has a passion for Southwest and the district as a whole, as she had as much knowledge of the happenings as me, a veteran teacher of 25 years. She is an experienced and capable leader, exemplified by her heading of the Public School Foundation where she advocated for grants for teachers to put innovative ideas to work. Not only is Kara optimistic, intelligent, thoughtful, and loyal, she is realistic, persevering, and hardworking. Kara has demonstrated an eagerness to research best practices to improve the school district, support school personnel, and, above all, help every student succeed. There is no one more qualified to serve as the Area 3 School Board representative than Kara Flynn.

Carin Wold, Former RCAS Teacher

For Natalie Slack

It is without hesitation that I recommend Natalie Slack for a seat on the Rapid City Area School Board. Natalie is a natural leader, filled with energy and enthusiasm to help. She leads by example, organizing many volunteer events benefiting the public schools. Natalie does these things year-round, year after year. She sees a need and comes up with a way to help meet it.

Not only does she have a tremendous drive to help, she has an open and empathetic mind. She realizes others have had a different journey than hers. She consistently seeks to collaborate.

Her experience with our public schools is firsthand. She lives it every day as a parent and through the experiences of her children. She understands the world we live in and that ways that may have worked to educate kids a generation or two ago, don’t necessarily fit with today modern world. She also views the RCAS staff as partners in delivering high quality education to our kids.

For these reasons, and many more, I proudly recommend Natalie Slack for the Rapid City School Board. I will be voting for her on June 8th and I hope you will too.

Sarah Hermsen, Rapid City

For Kara Flynn

I am writing to endorse Kara Flynn as the Area 3 candidate for school board. I’ve known Kara since our children entered kindergarten 13 years ago. As a working parent, I appreciated Kara for volunteering in the classroom to help students. I called her to get more information about school events or changes in the school system. She hauled extra kids to band practices at the civic center, sports practices and chess club when their parents couldn’t. It was important to her that every child had the opportunity to participate in activities.

In 2013, Kara and I were the Popcorn Kernels for Local Cub Scout Troop 33. We coordinated the sale, marketing and delivery of popcorn for the annual fundraiser. We scheduled show and sells and taught the kids how to make a sales pitch. Kara picked up the troops order, we organized it and helped each scout get their order to make deliveries. That summer Kara stepped up to chaperone at Scout Camp when no one else was available. That’s what I love about Kara, she always takes action to support our kids. She deserves your vote on June 8th.

Heidi Hill Rubins, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

Natalie Slack has been an asset to our school system many years prior to her decision to run for RCAS School Board Area 1. She has demonstrated her engagement with the community and it's students. She engages all parties with a vested interest in any subject and is willing to put in research without a facade of "knowing it all."

Public education lays the groundwork for the social and intellectual success of our students. One not in isolation from the other. Natalie has experienced those complex interactions first hand as she also has her own children in RCAS. She has a pulse on the student community and a keen awareness of the family implications of any RCAS decision. Her focus is on identifying the needs of students and families within our community without distraction from outside political influences that do not belong in our schools.

As an RCAS graduate myself with my own Grandview Elementary student now, Natalie is exactly the type of person I want representing my area on the school board. I am both grateful and thankful she has chosen to run and I hope she inspires other vested parents to look into ways to engage with our school system. These are our children and they deserve representation by someone not lost in ideologies, but grounded in the realities of our public school experience. I encourage all Area 1 residents to vote for Natalie Slack for RCAS School Board on June 8th (early voting beginning May 24th).

Kimberly Hayden

Am I the weird one?

Why are the top Republicans afraid of a commission about January 6, if there is nothing to hide?

Why is Donald Trump "railing" against the Manhattan DA and the NY AG, if he has nothing to hide? I think they protest too much.

If the IRS ever audited me, I would welcome it and expect they would find a deduction I missed, not the reverse.

Would you rather have someone like me in office or people like them?

If you apply that rational to yourself, where would you fall?

Am I the weird one?

Mark Waters, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

Every once in awhile, you meet a person who seems to have endless amounts of energy, a true zest for life, a passion for equality, an overwhelming sense of empathy, the courage to do hard work and ask hard questions, an ability to make organization and fundraising look easy, a true leader and a good listener, a person with a deep respect for The Golden Rule.

Natalie Slack is that person and there aren’t many like her anymore. In the time I’ve known Natalie, I have known her to be a person who is willing to rise to challenges, and work hard to build the kind of community that works for all of our kids and families.

She is fair, dedicated, generous, educated, and civic-minded. She is also an enthusiastic parent, writer, business owner, community member, and volunteer.

I know that she would serve the school board with fairness, integrity, and equality. She has our full support.


Jessica Fenner, Rapid City

No foresight

Does anyone else see the danger we are facing from all this Q-conspiracy nonsense and election fraud B.S. that the conservative party espouses? For pete's sake, making a mess of our own nest just so the other party can't govern is beyond childish, it's downright dangerous(children and matches?). It has to be said: " Our enemies are playing us while we inflict damage on our own Democracy". Wake up America to the real enemies. It's the same ones that we were striving against when we were growing up. That's right, you remember, Russia and China.

They can't beat us when we are united but give them half a chance and they will monopolize on our current ignorance of their longtime agenda to take us down. They hate Democracy for its role in keeping freedom alive in this world. So I ask you; Is it worth taking the risk of weakening ourselves just to keep our political opponents, who by the way have our best interest at heart, from being able to govern?

Are we really this stupid? Are we really this blind?

Come on man! let's use our heads as well as our hearts and stay on the same team. If we weren't divided do you think hackers would be so emboldened? No fifth columns please!

Dave Freytag, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

Every once in awhile, you meet a person who seems to have endless amounts of energy, a true zest for life, a passion for equality, an overwhelming sense of empathy, the courage to do hard work and ask hard questions, an ability to make organization and fundraising look easy, a true leader and a good listener, a person with a deep respect for The Golden Rule.

Natalie Slack is that person and there aren’t many like her anymore. In the time I’ve known Natalie, I have known her to be a person who is willing to rise to challenges, and work hard to build the kind of community that works for all of our kids and families.

She is fair, dedicated, generous, educated, and civic-minded. She is also an enthusiastic parent, writer, business owner, community member, and volunteer.

I know that she would serve the school board with fairness, integrity, and equality. She has our full support.

Jessica Fenner, Rapid City

Against RCEA

Recently a comment appeared in the Two Cents from a citizen that was happy to align their school board vote with the endorsement of the deceptively named Rapid City Education Association (RCEA). The RCEA is a union that represents teachers and administrators, not students and parents. The RCEA and the SDEA are aligned with the National Education Association – the largest union in the country. While our teachers are adequately represented by their unions, our students and parents are not. For these reasons, I am happy to support all of the candidates that the RCEA did not endorse. Deb Baker, Breanna Funke, Kate Thomas, and Gabe Doney will put students and parents first. Please vote for these candidates that support and prioritize our students and their parents!

David Needham, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

Leaving Minnesota to take the position as Artistic Director for Black Hills Community Theatre meant taking a leap of faith into an area I knew had long fought for arts and culture inclusion alongside agriculture, tourism, and athletics.

The last few years have reminded me the importance of community involvement in arts and education - that when we support expression, young and old, we move towards a more robust community of diversity and creativity.

Natalie Slack has served on the Board of BHCT and as chair of our Marketing department. Her passion for creating equity and opportunity for local young people was evident as I saw her name pop up in local news stories about so many dynamic events and initiatives in the Hills.

I've met very few people who are as busy and as impactful as Natalie. Her intentions are of the very best kind: to give South Dakota's young people the type of education, affirmation, and opportunity that quite literally can save lives.

Natalie is the sort of person who has dedicated her life to doing her best thing right here, right now. She's exactly who Rapid City needs on the School Board.

Zach Curtis, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

I am writing today to show my support for Area 1 School Board candidate Natalie Slack. I have the pleasure to work on the staff of Black Hills Community Theatre where Natalie has been serving as a Board Member for the past year. Natalie's passion and enthusiasm for everything she works on is unmatched.

She is constantly showing support by either asking how she can help or by contributing new ideas and suggestions that help the project move forward. At every meeting she showcases her positivity, intelligence and compassion. Outside of her work for BHCT, I can tell she is also a committed community member, supportive partner and caring parent. If these above characteristics are not what you want to see in a member of our school board, I'm not sure what you are looking for. If you get the chance to vote for Natalie, please do.

Ryan Puffer, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

I’m writing in support of Natalie LaFrance Slack to represent area one on the Rapid City School Board. In a recent vote our board decided that students continue masking for the few remaining days of school. This was a difficult decision which brought them criticism but likely prevented at least a few more covid transmissions and, in any case, hurt nothing.

Thankfully, all of us simply can not vote on every single issue. We elect strong, smart, sensible people to represent us, and then we give them the benefit of the doubt. Natalie is the right person for this important job. She has done, and continues to do, many good things for our community.

She works well with others, is consistently positive, always thoughtful and fair, and she is well-spoken. I trust her to do what’s best for her kids, for all our kids, and for our community. I also know she is strong enough to do what’s right—especially when it’s hard. Please take a few minutes on the 8th to vote for Natalie Slack.

Steve Martinez, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

I support Natalie Slack running for Area 1 School Board because I would support Natalie Slack running for anything. She is the most authentic person I've met in a long time. She dreams, and then she does. She listens, and then she helps. She shows respect to everyone equally because she truly believes all humans deserve a fair chance at this game of life we're all playing. That's just the person she is. How does that personality translate to a School Board member?

Natalie is going to listen to the concerns of school teachers and administration with her hands on the heartbeats of our youth, which I believe everyone can agree is our number one purpose: CHILDREN -- mine, yours, theirs. All of them. Because they all matter. Because that's community. What children gain from community support, specifically through whole education, creates positive rippling effects. Natalie breathes this belief and embodies it through endless community projects she's either spearheaded or volunteered for many years. Her commitment to community, including her three sons' schools, proves her heart-centric approach to this campaign.

The world is evolving, and our youth are keeping up. Natalie is too. It's time we all do.

Chasity Marcus, Rapid City

For Natalie Slack

I wanted to write to you in order to voice my support for Natalie Slack for Area 1 School Board. Natalie is an upstanding member of the Rapid City community and she is the best candidate for this position. As a teenager, I did not have community members voicing their support for LGBTQ+ students. I often felt that those who were in powerful positions in the city did not care to engage with or show support for queer youth. One of the reasons I no longer reside in Rapid City is because of my negative experiences throughout middle and high school where I felt like an outsider or dealt with bullying. With someone like Natalie on the Rapid City School Board, I believe all different types of students will feel that they have someone looking out for their best interests.

Natalie is tremendously involved in Rapid City as a parent of three boys, as a small business owner, and as a community member. She supports and encourages those around her while still engaging with those who may disagree with her opinions. Natalie wants to make Rapid City’s schools safer, more accessible, and to promote kindness and understanding both in and out of the classroom. I feel that Natalie will make an upstanding Rapid City School Board member who will look out for all students, no matter what type of path they may be walking.

Andrew LaFrance, Sacramento, CA

For Natalie Slack

During the past couple of years it has been a pleasure to see the development of new arts programs and venues for young people and youth in Rapid City. Always behind the scenes of these new venues has been Natalie Slacks’ involvement. She gets involved and gets things done. Good things, good for our youth, good for our diverse culture, good for Rapid City. She supports the arts and sees them as an important part of our children’s education. That is why I wholeheartedly support Natalie Slack in her candidacy for School Board, Area 1.

Natalie has three teenagers in Rapid City Schools, which in itself requires a lot of thinking outside the box.  She’s a wonderful person, respectful of diversity, a lover of the arts, and indeed a wonderful candidate for our School Board.

Jay Pond, Rapid City


Your opinion is welcome. Letters to the editor should be 200 words or less and include the author’s name and address, along with a phone number for confirmation purposes.

The phone number will not be published. Letters to the editor are limited to two per month per person. The deadline for letters mentioning topics connected to an upcoming election has passed. Early voting begins May 24 and Election Day is June 8. 

Letters about a campaign, candidate or issue may be run as a paid advertisement within the final two weeks of an election.

-Journal Editorial Board

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