Watertown City Councilman takes Watertown Public Opinion to task for “obvious bias” in support of Mayoral candidate

While I was doing some poking around for information on the Watertown Mayoral race in light of Rushmore PAC doing advocacy work for Mayor Steve Thorson,  I came across an interesting Facebook post from Watertown City Councilman Mike Danforth taking the local newspaper, the Watertown Public Opinion, to task for what has allegedly been a trend of bias in the race against the mayor:


The answer: They were afraid of retaliation, and I don’t blame them. You see, the “Power of the Pen” per se, a.k.a. the Public Opinion, has been used historically and repeatedly against those that differ from their “Opinion”, which in most cases can be translated into “Agenda”.

Now, the Hypocrisy: How does the money from this PAC, with money from local community members, differ all that much from the manner in which the Public Opinion has supported Ms. Caron in her mayoral race against Mayor Thorson, and the obvious bias from the repeated and misleading articles from Mr. Johnson? The Public Opinion is owned by out-of-state interests. Is there a bias edict coming from Corporate? I would hope the answer is NO, but I don’t know that.

So it then comes down to local people working at the Public Opinion, trying to sell newspapers, and in the process, trying to persuade our voters on how to vote. How does that differ from the local community members trying to support their candidate of choice, without being retaliated against? These people are not used to the negative, misleading, and vindictive approach Ms. Caron has used throughout her campaign, nor are they typically politically involved to this extent, so they have used one of the few tools available to them (and legal by all means). And now, today, the Public Opinion calls “Foul”.

Well maybe, just maybe, the PAC isn’t the problem. Maybe in this case, it is our own local newspaper and the “Opinions” (a.k.a. Agendas).

Read it all here.

Is the Watertown Public Opinion (or at least some of the people there) exhibiting an obvious bias? Are they being hypocritical in this case?

What are your thoughts?

The 2018 Sioux Falls Mayoral Hunt

You’d think the 2016 elections were all but a foregone conclusion at this point with there being no challengers to John Thune, Kristi Noem or Chris Nelson. (Not that it isn’t, because the Democrats aren’t going to dig anyone up to beat them, if they can get candidates at all.) So, many of us who are in the business of prediction and prognostication are looking ahead to the races in 2018.

Sidestepping the overtly political races at the state level, there is another big race that’s going to be up with an open seat – the “non-partisan” Office of Sioux Falls Mayor. Democratic Mayor Mike Huether, who many people think will be convinced by his inflated ego to run for Governor, will be termed out of office leaving an open seat.

And you can tell that it’s an open seat by the number of people who are rumored to be lining up to run for the office. Already there’s talk of candidate jockeying and jostling behind the scenes taking meetings with each other, and having coffee as they subtly try to convince each other not to bother, as they’d be the better candidate.

So, who is widely rumored to be considering the job?

While this is a non-partisan municipal race, don’t kid yourself. It’s anything but non-partisan, and this has been exacerbated during Huether’s tenure. And the battle lines are often drawn this way with major blocs of voters falling along those lines.

On the Republican side of the coin, three major contenders stick out;

And on the Democratic Side, we have four people rising to the top of contention:

There are other names floating around out there, but none that seem to rise to the level of being taken seriously, or they actively disavow any interest in running, such as former legislator Christine Erickson who is in her first term of office.

How should we look at the current field? On the Republican side, all have their own strengths. Ten Haken would be considered a breath of fresh air; the millennial candidate who could capture the fancy of those looking for a fresh face in politics. Jamison brings experience and name ID in running for the office. And – not to go out on a limb – but at first blush, Pat Costello would likely bring the strongest fundraising acumen.

On the Democrat side, there’s a lot less to get excited about. There’s not a lot of vocal sentiment for Darrin Smith to take over for Huether. In fact, his current position as Huether’s majordomo might kill his chances in the mayoral hunt.

Neither Anderson nor Erpenbach seem to bring any dynamic campaign elements to the race. And any ability of Erpenbach to tap into old Daschle donors would be countered if Hildebrand got into the race.

It’s hard to judge if Hildebrand will commit, as he has instances of talking about running but never moving past talk, such as against Stephanie Herseth. If he does move past talk, Hildebrand might be the strongest contender on the Democratic side. And he’d likely be the most polarizing, with people taking strong sides on everything from everything from his advocacy for Democrats to his personal life.

Here’s where the voting bloc in this non-partisan race who tends to go Republican needs to pay attention.

In 2010, your typical Republicans were faced with a choice of Mike Huether who pretended to run as a Republican businessman type and political gadfly Kermit Staggers. Many in the business community weren’t enamored with Staggers, questioning how he friendly he’d be to business, and voted the other way or stayed home.

And here we are five years later still lamenting the fact.

If Hildebrand is the strongest Democrat by far, and the rest of the “D” side of the equation is full of “not ready for prime-time players,” as they seem to be, Republicans need to be careful about fragmenting that bloc of voters, as that could place things more up in the air than may be comfortable.

It may force Republicans to come together as a group, and do a better job in supporting their candidate than they did 8 years ago, lest there be another 8 years of providing a stage for Democrats in Sioux Falls.

A wild night in local elections. 2 incumbent mayors turned out. Do we have an anti-incumbent mood in the state?

This bears a little watching. 2 incumbent mayors turned out in elections last night from two of South Dakota’s largest communities.  In Mitchell, Mayor Ken Tracy was defeated 58 to 42 percent by challenger Jerry Toomey. In Rapid City, 2-term mayor Sam Kooiker lost to former police chief Steve Allender.

Does this indicate unhappiness and a general voter malaise of with the status quo? Or are there unique reasons for each one’s demise?  For those involved in statewide elections next year, the mood bears watching, but this years’ elections might not be the best indicator. Lacking many other top level races to judge it against, I’d argue that it is driven individually.

Ken Tracy presided over a couple of disasters related to oversight of the Corn Palace; the alleged theft/conversion of gift cards belonging to the corn palace after an audit showed something was going on with it’s finances. And, a lawsuit that came up right before the election regarding the new person hired over whether he quit or was fired. Anyone looking at it from the outside had to be left wondering “what is going on there?”

Sam Kooiker had long been at odds with others in City Government, and rose to the office of Mayor on the basis of fighting “the man,” exposing alleged corruption, and cutting government. But in the face of being “the man,” being tied to the losing civic center expansion, facing general economic malaise and unrest in race relations in the state’s second largest city, it proved harder for him to capture the same lightning in a bottle that he was able to use previously to propel him to two terms as mayor.

It might have been a wild night – but each election stood or fell on it’s own merits.

* Bonus Election News:  Speaking of falling, in case you were curious, here are the results from Aberdeen where the blogosphere’s Cory Heidelberger “went Volesky” in his race, withdrawing last week after absentee voting had long been underway:

(78.3% to 21.6% in case you’re wondering).

Press Release: State Legislatures Oppose Opt-Out

Smarter Solutions for Students
7000 Peaceful Pines Road
Black Hawk, South Dakota 57718


State Legislatures Oppose Opt-Out

RAPID CITY, S.D. (June 1, 2015) – With hours before the election day, four state representatives, State Senator Phil Jensen, Representatives Lance Russell, Lynne DiSanto, and Blaine “Chip” Campbell, held a press conference today, June 1, at the Rapid City Public Library to discuss their opposition to the opt-out issue on tomorrow’s ballot for election day. Over a dozen supporters stood behind the state legislators during their press conference as they elaborated on their opposition to the opt-out and their warning to voters over potential tax increases rumored to be coming next year from the state.

State Representative Russell stated his opposition to the opt-out issue is due to their concern over impending tax increases that are rumored to be coming from the state legislator’s blue ribbon task force on education. Russell stated that he felt the public has a right to know of the potential impending tax increases from the state, prior to voting on a $30 million opt-out property tax increase locally. Russell challenged Governor Daugaard to “level with the voters of Rapid City prior to such a large property tax increase,” stating that he felt the Governor was not being forthcoming in regards to resolving the state education issues.

Representative DiSanto said, in opposition to the opt-out, that the Governor’s recommendation of an opt-out as a solution to local education problems is “not going about it the right way;” but elaborated on her support for “quality education,” stating that “ first and foremost, before I am a state legislator, I am a mother with children that go to school here.”

The state legislators have recommended to Governor Daugaard to work with them in order to resolve many of the issues that is facing our educational system. Senator Phil Jensen and Representative Blaine “Chip” Campbell made similar comments that they too felt the Governor had neglected dealing with the educational issues in an appropriate manner.

Tomorrow voters will go to the polls to decide on the issue.


Almost election day in Rapid City? Make sure you check out Sam Kooiker’s Web Site.

SamWebAd-SDWC-Blog-300x200 Just a brief plug for our Rapid City readers – Today, please take a moment to check out the web sites for one of our advertisers, Sam Kooiker, who is out campaigning hard for re-election to the office of Mayor of Rapid City.

Like him or not, you can say many things about Sam Kooiker. First and foremost, he’s a hard worker who in campaigns keeps his eye to the grindstone, no matter what his opponents throw at him.

I’ve known Sam for many years. And in my dealings with him, I’ve always found him to be honest & a straight shooter who doesn’t treat people any differently whether they own million-dollar companies or dig ditches for a living. And for someone in an office such as he’s running to return to, that’s a good thing.

So, if you haven’t made up your mind yet, check out “StandWithSam.com” and find out more before you cast your ballot in tomorrow’s election.

Former Mike Myers Campaign ‘Manager’ and Annette Bosworth defender Tara Volesky running for Mitchell School Board.

The headline at the MItchell Daily Republic screams “Volesky running ‘to get politics out of education.”  That’s kind of funny, I thought it should have said ‘running to get education out of politics,’ as anyone who would involve themselves with Annette Bosworth after her arrest might be lacking some basic information:

No stranger to campaigning, Volesky also ran for mayor three years ago and school board two years ago.

Volesky, who moved to Mitchell in 2006, graduated from Mobridge High School. She then obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from Brigham Young University, with a minor in gerontology and a teaching certification, though she noted she is no longer certified.

She worked at the now-closed Huron University for several years, and has been a substitute teacher at Huron and Mitchell’s schools. She and her husband, Ron, have four children, all of whom have graduated from Mitchell High School. Their youngest, Taylor, graduated this year.

An outspoken critic of the school board’s decision to build a new fine arts center, Volesky said, if elected, her primary goal would be to stop that process from going forward.


Read it all here.

Steve Allender comes off as a jerk in this morning’s Rapid City Journal.

It’s been a long and interesting campaign for Mayor of Rapid City this year. Early on, I think conventional wisdom was that Mayor Sam Kooiker might have a tough go of it this time around. I’d talked to people that thought that “Sam fatigue” had set in, as it does for many multiple term officials, and that Steve Allender was an attractive alternative.

What a difference a few months make.

Sam has always been known as a hard working campaigner who has faced tough and well-funded competition. And this election hasn’t been any different. But the last month has seen a slow motion imploding of the Allender effort, and in it’s latest effort this morning, we have a double-barreled helping of Allender coming off as a jerk.

Allender’s slow motion implosion has come partially as being the victim of his past, as well as events taking place. At the same time we had a high profile firing of a Rapid City nurse for some pointed, and quite racist statements against Native Americans made on you tubeRapid City residents were widely reminded of Allender’s involvement in a lawsuit having been accused of such highbrow humor with a Native American police officer as asking him if his sandwich was a “slab of lab.”

As noted, it became part of the debate over who should lead the community of Rapid City, which over the course of the last six months has been roiled with accusations of racism. Coming on the heels of the hospital incident, reminder’s of Allender’s past have not helped him.

But is isn’t all circumstance. Some of his problems are quite unforced errors.

This morning, residents were served up a double dose of what they could expect from an Allender mayoral administration who has been trying to shed his past, claiming it was in his past. Except it didn’t portray him in any light that he should want to be portrayed:

It’s the end of an hour-long interview, and Steve Allender has been rigidly formal, sharing his belief that he is the kind of strong, proven leader who as mayor can move Rapid City forward and improve how government works.

But suddenly, some of his dry, pointed humor seeps out. He slips into an impromptu impersonation of Mayor Sam Kooiker, his opponent in the June 2 Rapid City mayoral election, who Allender feels has run a dirty, personality-based rather than issue-based campaign. So, in a moment he clearly saw as more humorous than heartfelt, he mocks the mayor’s propensity for sappy-sounding public statements like “I love people” and “I love serving people.”


Allender, a 53-year-old retired police chief in Rapid City, is in his living room with a reporter and photographer. From the kitchen, the candidate’s wife, Shirley, hears him launch the attack and calls out a sharp, “Steve!” in admonishment.

He laughs and changes the subject, but the moment aligns with an emerging portrait that’s been revealed by the spotlight of his sudden entre into politics: There’s only one version of Steve Allender, and he says what’s on his mind, both in pursuit of positive change in the city and while leading its top law enforcement agency, but also for the sake of a laugh or to make a point on controversial topics.

Read that here. And part two of his downhill snowballing to unlikeability:


Allender’s advertisement appears to intentionally misspell & mock Kooiker’s name to a much less flattering “Kookier,” as if to imply he’s unbalanced, a comment at the level of an elementary school insult.   Between his mocking Kooiker in the article, and mocking him in the advertisement, Steve Allender comes off as a jerk in this morning’s Rapid City Journal.

I’m sure I’m repeating it for the umpteenth time, but one of the things I was taught long ago in political campaigning is that people decide to vote for you in stages. First, you have to get them to know you. Then, you have to get them to like you. And finally, then you have to earn their trust. Then, a candidate will have earned the voter’s affirmative nod on election day.

Most candidates don’t get past the “know” stage. But, in this case, having been police chief, he’s going to enjoy a high name id. The problem Allender faces is that whether intentional or not, he’s done nothing to dispel the fact that far too often, he sounds like a dick, as opposed to someone you want to put in charge of your safety, your government departments, and how your taxes are spent.

Mayor Sam Kooiker knows how to roll with the punches, and get a few jabs in on his own when he’s in the heat of a political race. But, no one would ever accuse him of racial humor, belittling people, or openly mocking them to try to win an election. He just gets out and works hard.

Allender had an opportunity to take the high road by campaigning and outworking Kooiker, but instead went down a path that… well, I’ve never seen a winning campaign make fun of the other person’s name and mock the opponent’s sentiment.  As things roll into the last week of the election, I’m not hearing from anyone that they expect Allender to win.

Not that Kooiker is expected to give his victory speech yet.  I suspect he’s going to talk about what he wants to do with a new term, and keep going door to door. And not mocking his opponent.

In fact, he may not have to mention him at all at this point.

Rapid City Council Race controversy; Candidate’s past protection orders coming out, blames opponent.

Running a political blog, there are a lot of times you get “things” sent to you that make for interesting reading regarding political candidates. Sometimes, you have to put them in the category of BS. Other times, they’re a little tougher to explain away.

Today, I received one of those that’s a little tough to explain away.

I’m reading a South Dakota Clerk of Courts history report sent to me regarding Rapid City Council candidate Dallas DeCory, Sr.  DeCory’s campaign has been pretty silent since the Second of April, when the Rapid City Journal had a write up in the newspaper about his entrance into the Ward 4 race:

In Ward 4, Dallas DeCory Sr. will face incumbent Alderman John Roberts in the June 2 municipal election. In Ward 5, Cassi Andrews has challenged incumbent Alderman Brad Estes.

DeCory, 39, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said in a press release that he would strive to improve race and human relations if elected to represent Ward 4 residents in north-central Rapid City.


DeCory owns and operates a local roofing company, having worked in the industry for more than 16 years. He said his roofing experience has reinforced his understanding of hard work and personal drive and has sharpened the ethics he will use to produce community unity.

Read that here.

Apparently over the past 16 years, in-between “sharpening the ethics,”  there were some other things that came up that are a little tougher to talk about in a campaign setting.

Bad Candidate

On this report, I’m reading requests for three protection orders for Domestic Abuse (see asterisks **)  – one in 2006, one in 2007, and one in 2009, each from different women, with him filing one against the person who filed it against him in one instance. In case you’re wondering, in those instances, I’ve redacted the names of those involved who aren’t running for anything, although everything noted is public record.  Plus, there was also a protection order filed for stalking, which was later dismissed, as well as a charge of Simple Assault (Domestic violence) which also seems to have been dismissed.

Apparently, this information has been floating out there for a day, as the candidate has already posted a fiery response on his facebook page:


Interestingly, he blames his opponent, who has no connection to the person who had sent the information to me. And, while he notes “protection orders that I filed against my ex girlfriends and some counter protection orders that were filed against me,”  I’m reading it three against him to one from him against a girlfriend.

Is this information that the voters should be forearmed with prior to making their decision?  How do you think this is going to affect the race?

That’s a campaign slogan you don’t often see…

Caught this in tonight’s paper. I can’t recall the last time I noticed “Rock On” used as a campaign slogan…


But then again, that’s the first candidate photo with dark sunglasses I’ve run across. As well as a one wearing a “poor-boy” cap in their campaign photo, as they stare off to the side.

(Does the Rock-on thing that mean they could start playing Motley Crue and Metallica at City Council meetings?)

Opponent to Kooiker announces for Mayor. Mistakes already being made. 

The man who is arguably the primary opponent to Mayor Sam Kooiker in this year’s’ Rapid City mayoral contest has made his announcement for mayor. And it seems that mistakes are already being made.

On his campaign page, former police chief Steve Allender notes the following:

“I intend to run a positive campaign because I believe the voters should be allowed to choose the best candidate, not the lesser of evils.”

But what’s the intro of the Rapid City Journal article announcing his candidacy?

 Now wholly committed to a bid for Rapid City mayor, former police chief Steve Allender said Monday that he will roll out his criticisms of incumbent Mayor Sam Kooiker slowly until the June 2 election.

Allender, who on Friday said he remained just 99 percent sure he would run, only alluded to his indifference with Kooiker during his formal campaign announcement Monday at the Adoba Hotel in downtown Rapid City.

“I am pacing myself a little bit,” he said. “I don’t intend to bring up the deepest and darkest issues here this morning, especially with such a friendly and good-looking crowd.”

Read it here.

“Criticisms,” and “I don’t intend to bring up the deepest and darkest issues here this morning.” Good grief. Cue Darth Vader’s theme.  So much for positive. It sounds like the only thing the campaign will be about are evils.

And then there’s the logo.

Is that swirly thing after “Allen” and before “er” supposed to constitute a letter in his name? Well, it really doesn’t. It just renders his name illegible at any speed.

Seriously? That’s something I’ve spoken about since year one of this web site, and was taught over 25 years ago. Never, ever substitute a graphic element for a letter of your name. Especially once like this, which is actually difficult to discern as a letter.

Supposedly, he’s going to be deploying that logo on yard signs, billboards and 4×8’s. If you can’t read the darn name quickly and clearly, that’s a waste of money. There’s a graphic designer out there who needs to return their fee, because this is not an asset to the campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Mr. Allender (or Mr Allen-swirly-er) is a nice person. But for someone in a political campaign against Sam Kooiker, a tough, experienced campaigner – he’s not kicking things off on the right foot.