A special election was held in February 1961 to decide if Rapid City would retain its four-year-old aldermanic form of governance or revert to an earlier city manager system. Fred Dusek had led the charge in 1957 to adopt the aldermanic structure, and he became the first mayor to serve under this new form of government. But in 1961, some citizens, including the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, organized a movement to go back to the city manager system.
The Chamber mailed a fact sheet regarding the city manager system to its members, as reported by the Rapid City Journal. As part of its outreach, the Chamber also solicited feedback from its members by mailing 650 ballots regarding the change in governmental form. Of note, 173 chamber members expressed preference for the manager-council system, while 50 preferred the aldermanic form. In the end, however, Rapid City voters cast their ballots in favor of retaining the aldermanic form of governance.
Several arguments were made in favor of the manager-council form over the aldermanic system, including established boundaries between legislative and administrative authority, which was thought to be muddled under the aldermanic system. Under the manager-council system, the council serves as the legislative body, while the mayor carries out the administrative duties of the council and has the same authority as an alderman-at-large.
Learn more about the previous systems of governance in Rapid City at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Types of Government and Home Rule Resource Page. Learn more about the previous mayors of Rapid City at the Rapid City Mayoral History Page.