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2017 Rapid City Council Candidate Profiles Black Hills Knowledge Network photo
May 1, 2017

2017 Rapid City Council Candidate Profiles

The Black Hills Knowledge Network has compiled a profile of candidates for Rapid City Council. Each candidate was contacted regarding the profile and offered an opportunity to respond. The candidates below responded to our request. Candidate profiles are posted in the order in which they were received.

For voter information, including registration, ward maps, polling places and more, visit Rapid City's Election Information webpage. For information on the candidates for the Rapid City School Board, refer to the Rapid City Journal question and answer profile

Ritchie Nordstrom, Rapid City Ward 2 Candidate

Ritchie Nordstrom was born and raised near Madison, South Dakota on a dairy farm. He graduated from Madison-Orland High School prior to enlisting in the U.S. Navy serving from 1967-1971. Ritchie was stationed in Japan and Vietnam near Da Nang and Quang Tri with the Navy Sea Bees Amphibious Construction Battalion -1 (ACB-1) West Pac Battalion and later assisted with a crew that picked up Apollo 14 from the South Pacific.

Nordstrom began his professional career in the private sector from 1972 to 1980. He went on to work 30 years for the City of Rapid City before retiring on January 7, 2011 as an Industrial Waste Technician for the Water Reclamation Facility.

Nordstrom has served on the Rapid City Common Council since 2011 representing Ward 2.

Nordstrom’s other community leadership roles include serving on the Water Environment Federation, a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a dance instructor for the Career Learning Center of Rapid City.

“I am running for City Council because I want to continue to advocate for Rapid City’s long-range plant to fill potholes, pave roads, rebuild infrastructure and improve sidewalks across the city,” stated Nordstrom. “I’m running for City Council because I believe the City can play a role in supporting affordable housing. The City can partner with developers and non-profits to assist with the construction of tiny houses, workforce housing and premium housing. 

A third reason I’m running for City Council is being a partner in the community with businesses that want to build in Downtown Rapid City including East of Fifth Street in order to improve the quality of life for people who want to live in Downtown area of Rapid City.” Ritchie can be reached by email or at 605-721-6398.

Ron Sasso, Rapid City Council Ward 5 Candidate

Ron Sasso is a REALTOR® at Coldwell Banker Lewis-Kirkeby-Hall Real Estate. He is the son of a fireman who was also an army veteran. Sasso was raised understanding the importance of serving and helping people. He served on the Rapid City Council from 2011 to 2013.

Sasso received his Bachelor's Degree in English from the College of New Jersey and received his Master’s Degree in Counseling from South Dakota State University. In addition to being a real estate agent he also teaches at the Black Hills School for Real Estate. He is also a licensed professional counselor.

During his time on city council he brought forward several ordinance changes to improve Rapid City. One ordinance created a process for testing and accepting infrastructure. The ordinance insures that roads are built properly so they will last longer. He also brought forward an ordinance to address aging trees that present a hazard.  In addition he succeeded in repealing a bicycle registration ordinance.

Sasso has worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. He was the program director of an out-patient brain injury rehabilitation program. Under his direction, the program grew by over 400% and helped hundreds of people of all ages and all walks of life, recover from brain injury.

Sasso previously received the Rapid City Citizen of the Month Award for his work with the homeless population.

Sasso has presented at various conferences throughout the region (including presenting at Mayo Clinic). He has presented on a variety of topics including sports concussions, homelessness, and emotional impact of brain injury, to name a few. He has also done presentations on leadership development and will be presenting on stress management at the Scleroderma Foundation's national conference.

In 2016, Sasso was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma (an autoimmune disease). He will be facilitating a scleroderma support group in Rapid City.

Since 2006, Sasso has been a board member of the Brain Injury Alliance of South Dakota. He has also been a board member of the Humane Society of the Black Hills since 2014 and was a member of the Rapid City Public Library board from 2011 to 2013.

Sasso has worked as a freelance writer with his columns published in the Rapid City Journal. He has also written eight feature-length screenplays (primarily romantic comedies) and has composed over 1,000 poems.

Laura Armstrong, Candidate for Rapid City Ward 5

Laura Armstrong is a candidate for Ward 5 City Council position in the June city election in Rapid City.

Armstrong said that as she went door to door with her petitions, her neighbors in Ward 5 emphasized road conditions, affordable housing, public safety, and the Civic Center as key concerns.

“As someone who has owned and operated a small business successfully for years, I know that we have to be fiscally responsible and keep moving forward with strong and positive leadership,” she said.  “I’m a good listener, a hard worker, and a problem solver and that’s what we need on the Council.”

Armstrong is a speech pathologist who has lived in Rapid City for over twenty years. Currently the owner of her own speech pathology clinic, Armstrong has also been a speech language pathologist for local schools and Rapid City Regional Hospital, Birth to Three Connections, the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center, and Black Hills Works. 

Prior to becoming a speech pathologist, she worked in administration at Green Tree Financial.

Armstrong has been active in helping the Multiple Sclerosis Black Hills Chapter since 2008 by teaching adaptive and traditional yoga.

She was the South Dakota Speech Language and Hearing Association President in 2015, and led the successful effort to create state licensure for speech pathology to protect consumers and patients.

Armstrong said she has also long been a strong supporter of Rapid City’s parks, humane society, and library.

Laura and her husband Scott have twin teenager daughters.

Armstrong welcomes people to contact her with questions and suggestions at 605-388-2367 or by email. She also has a website and a Facebook page for people to contact her.

Helen Usera, Candidate for Rapid City Council Ward 4

A mother, a veteran, a local business owner, a school principal—Dr. Helen Usera will use her experience in problem solving and community leadership when elected by her neighbors in Ward 4 to serve on the city council.

Her vision is clear and honest: build a future for Rapid City’s diversified north side by encouraging community involvement, elevating cultural awareness and promoting prosperous commerce.

“I will strengthen our community and forge new productive partnerships with a focus on youth and public policy,” says Helen, who as the owner of Aspiring Business Consulting assists corporations and institutions in developing leadership and organizational strategies. “I have the background and experience to turn my vision into action.”

Helen was principal at two Piedmont schools before offering leadership and management guidance to area non-profit groups and small businesses. A teacher in Kansas and Pine Ridge, she earned a doctorate in educational administration following 12 years of service in the US Army Reserves.

Always an active volunteer, Helen has been involved with her church, Summer Nights, Habitat for Humanity International, Black Hills Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers & Sisters of the Black Hills and Partnership with Native Americans.

A former school board member, Helen now serves as a board member of the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce. She is also civic leader with the Air Force Global Strike Command.

Helen is most proud of her two adult sons, Alex and Max, and enjoys spending time with her granddaughter, Mackenzie Skye.

For more information, visit her website or her Facebook page, UseraforWard4.

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