Absentee ballots for the changes to water rates in Rapid City became available for residents on February 5th, reports KOTA News. While the Rapid City Council had previously approved a water rate increase through resolution, political interest group Citizens for Liberty gathered sufficient signatures to place the matter to a public vote. Holding the public vote will cost the city approximately $60,000, according to the Rapid City Journal.
Although the matter is going to a public vote, the Rapid City Council may still be able to adjust the water rates. The question posed in the special election is whether or not the council can adjust water rates via resolution rather than ordinance. A “no” vote would indicate that council cannot adjust the rates via resolution, but it would still be able to amend the original ordinance to adjust the rates.
Early votes concerning the water rate can be cast at the Pennington County Auditor’s Office until the day before the election. The general election will be held on February 20th. For more information on Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Rapid City will resolve its last city council race on June 27. Laura Armstrong and Ron Sasso placed first and second in a three-way race for Ward 5, but neither received over 50 percent of the vote. The Rapid City Journal reports that early voting is underway at the Pennington County Administration Building.
Mayor Steve Allender speculated to KOTA News that Rapid City could avoid the cost of run-off elections by rewriting ordinances. The candidate receiving a plurality of votes usually gained the majority in the run-off, so multi-candidate races could be decided based on votes received.
Past election stories are found on the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
The city council election is over for most of Rapid City. Ritchie Nordstrom overcame two challengers in Ward 2 and John Roberts claimed victory by a slim margin in Ward 4. In Ward 1, newcomer Becky Drury won over Vince Vidal, while former council member Chad Lewis was unopposed in seeking Ward 3's seat. However, Ward 5 will go into a run-off. The Rapid City Journal reports the three-way race ended with Laura Armstrong gaining 41 percent of the vote. Since she did not exceed 50 percent, she will face runner-up Ron Sasso, who had 32 percent of the votes, in a runoff election later this month.
Past stories on the election are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
Have you recently been asked to sign a petition, but weren't exactly sure what it was about? Read our brief summaries of the current ballot measures below to ensure that you're in the know!
The South Dakota Secretary of State has posted the potential 2018 ballot questions. Sponsors of ballot measures need to collect 13,871 petition signatures by November 6, 2017 in order for the question to be on the ballot for the general November 2018 election.
2018 Ballot Measures
An initiated measure authorizing a South Dakota-licensed physician to prescribe drugs that a terminally ill patient may take for the purpose of ending life: This initiated measure, entitled the Death with Dignity Act, would allow physicians licensed within the State of South Dakota to prescribe drugs to terminally-ill patients for the purpose of ending their lives. Patients would be required to have a terminal illness that is likely to result in death within six months. The patient must be a South Dakota resident and is required to self-administer the life-ending drugs.
Terminally ill patients must make two verbal requests to their physician 15 days apart. Before the requests are made, the patient must be determined to be mentally-competent, and making a voluntary, informed decision. The patient is also required to make a request in writing with two witnesses present. The requests may be withdrawn at any point in time.
Physicians are required to inform patients of their medical diagnosis, including probable prognosis and alternative methods of care including palliative and hospice care. The diagnosis must also be confirmed by a second physician, who must also consult with the patient and confirm their decision. Physicians would not be required to participate in the provisions allowed by this measure.
An initiated measure to legalize certain amounts of marijuana, drugs made from marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, and to regulate and tax marijuana establishments: The proposed measure would legalize the possession; growth and cultivation, purchase, transport and distribution of marijuana and drugs made from marijuana. The measure would also legalize the possession of drug paraphernalia for individuals over the age of 21.
Additionally, the measure allows local jurisdictions and the South Dakota Department of Revenue to regulate businesses selling marijuana and imposes an excise tax for cultivation facilities for sales to other establishments. The measure would bar state officials from seizing assets from individuals involved in marijuana manufacturing, possession, transportation and trafficking the drug in certain amounts.
The Attorney General’s statement of this measure notes that many of its provisions would remain illegal both under state and federal law, and may even be found unconstitutional under state law. The statement also concludes that additional clarification by the judiciary or legislature may be required.
An initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use: This initiated measure would allow for the medical use. In order to use marijuana for medical purposes, patients must have debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a medical practitioners. Patients must also receive a registration card issued by the South Dakota Department of Health. Patients who are not South Dakota residents may use their respective state’s registration cards.
Under the measure, marijuana dispensaries, testing, manufacturing and cultivation facilities would be legalized for the purposes of medical marijuana use. Three ounces of marijuana would be allowed, along with a minimum (not maximum) of six marijuana plants for cultivation by medical marijuana cardholders. Other quantities may be determined by the South Dakota Department of Health.
Pending 2018 Ballot Measures
Summaries of the ballot measures below will become available as their final versions are submitted to the South Dakota Attorney General. Preview the state’s summaries below for more information on each initiated measure.
For more information on voting in South Dakota, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's voter resource guide.
Although he was elected governor in 1954 by a wide margin, decorated World War II veteran Joe Foss made an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1950 when he faced off against incumbent Attorney General Sigurd Anderson in the Republican Primary in early June 1953.
With all but 42 precincts reporting, Anderson had secured 34.82 percent of ballots cast—just shy of the 35 percent required to clinch the nomination, according to the New York Times. However, Foss was not far behind with an estimated 33,546 votes cast in his favor—just 1,573 votes less than those cast for Anderson. While the two were neck and neck, Anderson believed that the remaining votes to be tallied in Rapid City would help secure his nomination.
Anderson’s prediction turned out to be right. When all of the votes were counted, Anderson received 35,609 total votes, or 35.35 percent of the total 100,751 votes cast. Joe Foss missed the nomination by fewer than 3,000 votes.
Although he lost his first gubernatorial bid, Foss went on to serve two terms as governor from 1955 through 1959. At 39 years of age, Foss was the state’s youngest governor. At the end of his second term as governor in 1958, Foss launched a bid to become the U.S. Representative for South Dakota, but lost to George McGovern. Foss again sought to become a federal representative when Senator Francis Case died in office, but was defeated by Joseph Bottum, who served out the remainder of Case’s term.
Four of Rapid City's wards will elect a new city council member on June 6; Chad Lewis was the only candidate for Ward 3. To help voters make a decision, the Rapid City Journal sent out questions to the candidates. Each candidate was able to respond on issues of infrastructure, affordable housing, economic development, racism, and what to do with the Civic Center.
The election will be held on June 6. The Black Hills Knowledge Networks has posted candidate profiles for the upcoming city council election. Additional election stories are linked through the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
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.
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.
An ordinance updating Rapid City’s campaign finance requirements was recently approved by the Rapid City Legal and Finance Committee, reports KOTA News. Under the amended ordinance, the mayor and aldermen will be required to provide an annual statement of financial interest. The ordinance also prescribes the same penalties for violations of campaign finance disclosure under state law to the municipal level.
The ordinance must now go before the full Rapid City Council for approval.
To learn more about government and citizenship in Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile. Read recent news about Rapid City government at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Brad Estes, alderman of Rapid City's Ward 5, announced he would not run for another term. The Rapid City Journal reported that Estes cited business opportunities requiring increased attention as his reason for leaving the council. Per a previous KOTA News report, no challenger had stepped forward.
With just under a week before petitions are due, three of the five races for the Rapid City Council are competitive. KOTA News reports that no one has filed in Ward 3, where Alderman Jerry Wright is retiring. In Ward 5, Alderman Brad Estes will run for re-election, but there has not been a challenger. There are two challengers for the Ward 1 seat, but current Alderwoman Charity Doyle had not submitted a nominating petition as of 5:00 pm on March 21st.
Four Lead residents are competing for two seats on the Lead City Commission, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Incumbent Don Mack is running unopposed for a one-year term, while Incumbents David Vardiman and Denise Parker face opposition from Colin Greenfield for two, three year seats.
The one-year term is not typical for a seat on the Lead City Commission. However, Don Mack is currently finishing the term of present Mayor Ron Everett who was elected to his position before his term on the city commission finished.
The election for city commission will be held on April 11, at the new polling location within the Sanford Homestake Visitor Center. Newly elected commissions will begin their terms on May 1, 2017.
Are you looking for a helping hand in your community? Need help learning a new skill? The community resource pages below will assist you with everything from registering to vote to starting your own business. Are you looking for help with something you don’t see listed? We’re always looking for new ideas, so feel free to email us.
Economic Assistance (clothing, food, utilities, rent)
Pennington County Health & Human Services
725 N. Lacrosse St. Suite 200, Rapid City, SD 57701
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Services: Economic, Funeral and medical assistance. Veterans Service Office. Appointments: Required; an emergency walk in time may be available in some circumstances. Call for eligibility requirements.
405 N. Cherry Avenue, Rapid City, SD 57701
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Services: rental assistance, rental deposit, utilities, economic assistance (grocery, clothing, household items).
Appointments: required for rental/utility assistance. First-come, first-serve basis for other economic assistance.
30 Main Street, Rapid City, SD 57701
605-342-5360 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (food assistance).
Services: Utilities , food, official papers. Appointments: Required for utilities.
Community Action Program (CAP)
1844 Lombardy Drive, Rapid City, SD 57701 605-348-1460
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Services: Clothing, food, garden kits, school supplies, home weatherizing. Cost: Free.
Lifeline/Link-Up and Tribal Lifeline/Link-Up (for residents living on tribal lands)
Services: Phone deposits and lowered phone rates for low-income families.
Eligibility: Each program has income requirements. See websites for more information.
140 North St, Rapid City, SD 57701
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Services: Adult education classes, furniture and household items, moving and transportation assistance, home repair, clothing.
909 E. St. Patrick Street Ste 7
Services: Health screenings for children 0-5 years, WIC vouchers for purchasing nutritional foods.
Subsidized and Section 8 Housing Pennington County Housing
1805 West Fulton Street Suite 101, Rapid City, SD 57702
Services: Includes information about Section 8, shelter plus care, and more. List of subsidized and section 8 housing in Rapid City
Health and Medical Resources
S.D. Department of Health
909 E. St. Patrick Street St. 7
Services: community education, school screening, WIC, immunization, nutrition services. Sliding scale fees.
Children's Special Health Services - Health KiCC
Services: financial assistance for children with chronic conditions.
Sioux San Indian Health Services
3200 Canyon Lake Drive
Services: General medical, inpatient and outpatient adult, pediatric and prenatal care.
Good Shepherd Clinic, Inc.
Our Savior's Lutheran Church
1020 State Street Spearfish, SD 57701
Services: Free walk-in medical clinic. Must be uninsured and live in Northern Hills.
Appointments: No appointments available.
Rapid Transit System
333 6th Street, Rapid City, SD 57701
Services: Transporation anywhere within corporate limits of Rapid City.
Prairie Hills Transit
2015 Tumble Weed Trail, Spearfish, SD 57783
Services: Provides transportation in and around Butte, Custer, Meade, Pennington, Fall River, and Lawrence Counties. See website for fares and schedules.
Oglala Sioux Transit
P.O. Box 335 Pine Ridge, SD 57770
Services: Provides transit within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Shelter and Housing
Working Against Violence 527 Quincy Street Rapid City, SD 57701
605-341-3292 | Crisis Line: 888 716
Services: Temporary shelter for women and children escaping violent environments, sexual assault and domestic voilence support groups.
615 Kansas City Street, Rapid City, SD 57701-3640 (605) 716-4673
Services: Drop-in day center, mail, phon, short and long-term storage, document storage, free laundry program, haircuts, clothing vouchers, hygiene kits, and adult education.
Vocational Rehab Services
111A New York Street
Services: assists people with disabilities in finding employment.
SD Advocacy Services for Disabilities
1575 LaCrosse Street Ste K 605-342-3808
SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - Outreach Vision Consultant
3618 Canyon Lake Drive Ste 112 605-394-6638
Catholic Social Services
918 5th St., Rapid City, SD 57701
Services: counseling, adoption, youth prevention services.
Front Porch Coalition
401 3rd Street, Ste #4 Rapid City, SD 57701
Services: suicide prevention, survivors of suicide support.
Lutheran Social Services
2920 Sheridan Lake Rd., Rapid City, SD 57702
Services: Counseling for individuals and families.
Rapid City Veterans Center
610 Kansas City Street, Rapid City, SD 57701
Services: Counseling for any war theatre vets.
Training and Education
A bill that established a state of emergency to allow for the swift repeal of Initiated Measure 22 recently passed the Senate State Affairs Committee by a vote of 7-2, reports KOTA News. Passing the legislation under a state of emergency essentially blocks the possibility of a referendum on the bill.
House Bill 1069 has already been passed by the full House, and will now go before the full Senate. Governor Dennis Daugaard has agreed to sign a repeal of the measure, according to the Washington Post.
Initiated Measure 22 was approved by South Dakota voters in the November 2016 election 52 percent to 48 percent.
Visit the 2017 South Dakota State Legislature resource page to learn about pending legislation and find contact information for your South Dakota representatives. Learn more about the 2016 elections at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
A bill that would make approved initiative measures take place later in the year, reports KOTA News. Currently, initiatives take effect the day after the official canvass. Senate Bill 59 would prevent constitutional amendments, ballot measures and referred laws from beginning until July 1 after the official canvass.
The bill was introduced after numerous initiated measures and constitutional amendments appeared on the November 2016 election. Marsy’s Law, which concerns privacy rights of criminal victims, cause significant confusion among law enforcement officials.
To read more about the 2017 South Dakota legislative session, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s 2017 South Dakota Legislature page.
Two commission seats on the Deadwood City Commission will be open in the April 11 election, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The terms of David Ruth and Jim Van Den Eykel are expiring. Ruth has stated his intent to seek reelection, while Van Den Eykel is still considering a run.
Anyone interested in a three-year commission term can pick up a candidate election packet at the Deadwood finance office or from the SD Secretary of State’s website. Candidates must first collect fifteen petition signatures between January 27 and February 24, when the petitions must be returned to the Deadwood City Hall.
To read more about Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
South Dakota voters may decide on physician assisted suicide in the November 2018 election, reports KOTA News. Petitions to place the measure on the 2018 ballot are currently being circulated.
The measure would allow a physician licensed in South Dakota to prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients in order to end their lives. The patient's disease must be incurable and irreversible, and the patient must not be expected to live longer than six months. Patients must make two oral requests to their physician, separated by 15 days, as well as making a written request witnessed by two other people. The request may be canceled at any point during the process.
Governor Dennis Daugaard says he supports efforts to dismantle parts of the Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, also known as Initiated Measure 22 (IM 22) which includes reports the Rapid City Journal.
The new law, which took effect on November 16, is 34 pages long and includes capping gifts to legislators at $100, creating an ethics commission, and requires the state to set aside $5 million annually for public financing of campaigns. The governor stated that IM 22 was backed with huge amounts of out-of-state money, which helped to mislead voters about the measure. He also believes the money could be better used for Medicaid or education funding. Twelve South Dakota lawmakers and a local conservative group have filed a lawsuit claiming illegal conflicts.
For more information on the 2016 elections, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archive.
On November 8th, South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 22. This measure is also known as the "Anti-Corruption Act" and several lawmakers will file a lawsuit to alter the measure, reports the Rapid City Journal. A $100 limit on gifts to legislators is one of the provisions at the heart of the lawsuit. The gift limitations apply to employers and familiy members of legislators. Other concerns in the lawsuit are the creation of an ethics comission as well as a publicly financed campaign program for legislative and statewide candidates.
Americans for Prosperity, which is based in Arlington Virginia, has financed most of the opposition against Initiated Measure 22.
For more information about the 2016 Elections, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archives.
Amendment U, which would limit payday loans at 18% unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, was voted down on November 8, 2016, while Measure 21, which caps payday lending loans at 36% interest, was passed. According to a Rapid City Journal article, the owner of a Rapid City payday lending store has spoken out, saying the new laws may drive payday lending stores out of business. Rob Tschetter, owner of Cash With Us, has already shut down his business, claiming a 36% annual percentage interest rate as unsustainable and that people were duped by viewing payday loans in the long term instead of the short term.
Other payday lending stores will stay open to service existing customers and loans, but will not be giving out new loans.
For more news on the 2016 election, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archives.
The Pennington County Commission has approved the creation of four new positions at an annual cost of about $161,000. According to the Rapid City Journal, these positions were created in order to comply with the newly passed Marsy's Law. The meeting's agenda is posted here. The positions are needed to handle the expected large increase in cases that will come along as a result of the law. Marsy's Law is defined here.
To read up on past news articles related to the Pennington County government, be sure to click on this archives link.
For more information on Pennington County, check out the county homepage.