Deadwood City Commission candidate questionnaire

Residents head to the polls on Tuesday, April 11 to elect candidates for Deadwood City Commission. The Black Hills Pioneer sent a candidate questionnaire to the individuals vying for two positions, which carry a three-year term. The candidates’ answers are published below as received. When necessary, answers were edited slightly for length.

Bob Nelson, Sr.

Name and what you do for a living?

My name is Bob Nelson, Sr. I am presently employed by the city of Deadwood as Transportation Director/Risk Manager. I will be retiring April 28th.

What motivated you to run for this office?

I care deeply about our community and want to make sound decisions for the betterment of the city and the people that live and work here.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

I have been a department head for the city of Deadwood for 15 years, where I managed 22 employees and created a budget for operation of the trolley system. I was also President of the Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department, overseeing regular, monthly meetings. I have been chairman of the city’s Safety Committee for the last 15 years. I feel these experiences would be an asset to the role of a city commissioner.

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

President and Vice President of Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department and Senior Warden for Historic St. John’s Episcopal Church of Deadwood

How many city council meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

 I have attended all of the city council meetings for the last year.

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your community?

I believe the most important issues in Deadwood are maintaining its historic integrity and moving forward with a proposed comprehensive plan.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

 I hope to familiarize myself with these issues and to always consider funding from public and private sources for these projects.

What do you believe is working for your community and how will you retain that progression?

I believe the history and the natural beauty of our location continues to draw visitors to Deadwood and I would support continued growth and capital improvements.

What else do you want people to know about you?

 I am a 39 year resident of Deadwood. I have been married to my wife, Donna for 45 years. We have 2 sons, Bob, Jr. and Brad. We also have 2 grandsons Max and Carter. I have been a member of the Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department for 33 years and a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

What is one thing Deadwood can do to bring more people, spending more money, to town?

I would like to see the completion of the Event Center, with concerts and more special events in that location.

How can Deadwood revitalize its Main Street businesses?

I think the businesses should continue to take advantage of the façade grants that are available through Historic Preservation and consider new businesses and new ideas.

Is Deadwood spending its money responsibly?

For the most part, yes, but I think we need to keep control of our expenses and maintain a healthy reserve fund for emergencies and natural disasters.

Charlie Struble

Name and what you do for a living?

My name is Charlie Struble, I am the Promotions Manager & Assistant Bar Manager at Saloon #10.

What motivated you to run for this office?

First of all, I love Deadwood, my heart and soul are here. My grandparents moved here in the late 50's and my grandpa and grandma, Lew Keehn & Marion Keehn, were very involved in the community so I felt it was my time to step up and get more involved. I also want to be a motivation for the younger generation to get more involved.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

I am qualified for this position because I am a good leader and team player. I am driven and eager to learn. I am open-minded and I look at both sides of the issues. I also have a passion for problem solving.

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

I have never been elected to public office. I have been the secretary on The Deadwood Jam Board for 5 years.  

How many city council meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

I have been to several city council meeting throughout the year but after I decided to run I've been to every public meeting related to city business.

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your community?

I feel one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed is that Deadwood is lacking a sense of community. As a result of that families are moving to surrounding communities which is contributing to our declining school  enrollment. There has also been a decrease in the presence of our residents downtown. A lack of housing is also a concern.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

I have been involved with Deadwood Revitalization from its beginning. I am also on the Deadwood's Revitalization Promotions and Main Street Initiative Committee which is currently working on new events to bring local residents back downtown to discover what new things the downtown has to offer. I plan on continuing to work with that committee to create events that will bring the locals together to revitalize Deadwood's sense of community.

I am also pleased to see that the apartments on Stage Run are almost completed. I  think they are a much needed addition to Deadwood and will hopefully encourage more young families to move to Deadwood.

What do you believe is working for your community and how will you retain that progression?

Patience and never giving up. I am proud to see the made to date with Revitalization. We now have an improved way finding system. Main Street has a beautification program. We have a new Visitor Welcome Center, and  have updated and enhanced the trail systems, plus we have made many improvements to the Rodeo Grounds Event Center. I am excited for my continued involvement with Revitalization to help make future projects happen.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I was born and raised in Deadwood. I graduated from Lead-Deadwood High school in 2001 and went to College at Black Hills State University. I graduated from there with a degree in education with an emphasis in Chemistry and Earth Science. After graduating I decided to continue to work at my family's business, The Saloon #10. I have worked there for 13 years and in management for 5 years. I plan on continuing to carry on my family's legacy by being a contributing member of the Deadwood Community. I won the Young Professional of the Year in 2015. I am very involved with Relay for Life and The American Cancer Society. I have been the secretary of The Deadwood Jam board for 5 years.

What is one thing Deadwood can do to bring more people, spending more money, to town?

We have an outstanding Chamber of Commerce who has done an incredible job with events and bringing people to Deadwood. I also believe the future development of the two Main St. plazas will offer visitors something to do to extend their time in Deadwood. If they are here longer they spend money in our shops, restaurants, and casinos. This will lead to increased sales tax. It will hopefully help bring back a sense of community for the local residents.

How can Deadwood revitalize its Main Street businesses?

The City of Deadwood can't revitalize the businesses on Main Street. The business itself must want to invest in the business, but they need a reason to do so. With the Main St. plazas those businesses will have more incentive to start a project like that or to continue to make improvements. Historic Preservation offers various programs to assist business to help revitalize their buildings. I have already seen a number of  new businesses invest in Deadwood.  Scott Jacobs Gallery, Sick Boy, The Nugget, and The Wine Bar. There are also many businesses that are starting 2nd floor enhancements like Berg Jewelry.   

Is Deadwood spending its money responsibly?

I've taken the initiative and spent significant time reviewing the city's budget. I believe we continually have to look for ways to save taxpayer money. A fresh perspective may be able to find ways to save money.

 Jim Trucano

Name and what you do for a living?

My name is Jim Trucano and I am a real estate Broker Associate for Keller Williams- Black Hills. I have been assisting clients with their real estate needs since 2007.

 

What motivated you to run for this office?

Serving is a good opportunity to give back to our community.

 

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

I was born in Deadwood and graduated from Lead- Deadwood High School. Since then I’ve spent over 35 years owning and operating a small business. I know what it’s like to worry about making a payroll.

 

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

I was elected national president of the Amusement and Music Operators Association for the 1990-1991 term. AMOA is a trade group for coin machine operators.  I’ve also held various state and local level positions in both the jukebox and real estate industries.

 

How many city council meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

Four.

 

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your community?

To promote efficiencies in city government that benefit property owners.

 

How do you intend to solve these issues?

An almost $30 million budget for a town of 1200 seems like it may be excessive. A careful and thoughtful review of the budget might be a good place to start.

 

What do you believe is working for your community and how will you retain that progression?

Gaming has provided a solid foundation for municipal government during the past 25 years. Today, gaming seems to be a declining source of revenue and something needs to change or it will be a challenge to continue funding programs in the future.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I believe in small, efficient government. I also am a full time real estate broker associate which means, among other things, that I always answer my phone. I will be accessible.

What is one thing Deadwood can do to bring more people, spending more money, to town?

Continue to emphasize our unique place in history and diversify beyond slot machines and tee shirt shops.

How can Deadwood revitalize its Main Street businesses?

Establish a municipal environment where regulation, taxes, and fees are minimized. Support the Revitalization Committee effort.

Is Deadwood spending its money responsibly?

Generally, yes, but one needs to question whether a town the size of Deadwood really needs an annual budget of almost $30 million.

David R. Ruth, Jr.

Name and what you do for a living?

David R. Ruth, Jr.

Table Games Manager

Silverado and Historic Franklin Hotel

What motivated you to run for this office?

Just as when I ran as a new candidate three years ago, my sole motivation for serving on the Deadwood City Commission is to help. I wish to continue working to help Deadwood return to a balance between prospering economically and a thriving community for our families and residents. I represent the fifth generation since my family came to Deadwood. I have two sons at home who make it six. And my sincere and deepest hope is that by continuing to serve as a Deadwood City Commissioner, I can make a positive contribution toward assuring that my sons can look to Deadwood as a truly family-friendly place to raise their families someday. My candidacy is free from any agenda. And I have no preconceptions or biases.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

While professionally, I am the table games manager at the Silverado-Franklin, where I’ve worked for more than a decade, I’ve been actively involved as a volunteer in our community during that time. Prior to that, I served on the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, worked as the Executive Director of the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau, and served in various community leadership roles. I graduated from Lead High School before serving three years in the United States Army. I returned to Deadwood to raise my family, along with my wife, Kerry, who is an outreach consultant for the South Dakota School for the Deaf.

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

I’ve been fortunate to have gained experience with a large number and wide variety of civic and philanthropic organizations that serve our area. These have allowed me to earn the trust of others that leads to leadership opportunities within those groups. In my early 20s, while serving in the Army, I was the Equal Opportunity Officer for our unit. When I returned to Deadwood after three years of service, I jumped straight into volunteering for the Deadwood Jam, including two years as Chairman. I also served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and became their Executive Director in 2002. At that point, I had served nearly two years on the Historic Preservation Commission.

How many city council meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

As a sitting and current city commissioner, I am pleased to find that my schedule has allowed me to attend nearly all commission meetings in my first term. I have also attended the majority of the Historic Preservation Commission and Planning and Zoning meetings, as the city commission representative.

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your community?

I was very pleased to hear of the school board’s recent recommendation regarding the elementary, middle school, and high school buildings. This showed their renewed commitment to our two city school system and their recognition of having our children educated in both communities. The protection of our school coupled with the ongoing effort to revitalize and diversify our industries on main street, continue to be important issues in our community.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

With the school facilities issue moving forward positively, we now must address how to improve the quality of life for our residents. We do this by focusing on the development of a long-range comprehensive plan that examines and plans for Deadwood’s future over the next decade.  

What do you believe is working for your community and how will you retain that progression?

Our City department heads, without exception, are dedicated, loyal, and committed public servants. They deserve our continued support. Also, the Deadwood Chamber does a commendable job promoting Deadwood’s businesses, while marketing our community to enhance our visitors’ experiences. Stable, unified support from city leaders will be critical as we move through this period of transition.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I want each and every resident to know with confidence that I am and will always be receptive, open, and available to listen and help fully and honestly address their concerns. I wouldn’t be running for re-election on the commission if I wasn’t absolutely certain that I could make that commitment to our citizens.

What is one thing Deadwood can do to bring more people, spending more money, to town?

Revitalization of our community continues to be an import issue. Comprehensive revitalization involves participation of our residents to identify the priorities for diversifying and expanding the experience for both those who visit and those who call Deadwood home. Energetically reviving every one of our downtown businesses, not simply a few, and combining those efforts with making our town a happier, friendlier place to live and visit is vital to our shared success.

How can Deadwood revitalize its Main Street businesses?

The answer is not simply about the Revitalization Committee and the important work they do; it’s also about city government’s responsibility to ensure and support the work of that committee. In my first term on the city commission, I have been the only member to offer consistent and unwavering support for the Revitalization Committee.

Is Deadwood spending its money responsibly?

Yes.  As elected officials, we have a financial responsibility to ensure an appropriate level of reserves is maintained in case of any shortfalls in revenue, either gaming or sales tax, in order to avoid any reduction in our services. Reducing our reserves too far hampers our ability to bond in 2020, as well as our credit rating. As the only candidate with city budget experience, I have a detailed understanding of this critical issue.

Marlin Maynard

Name and what you do for a living?

Marlin Maynard, Retired Occupational Health and Safety manager and college professor

What motivated you to run for this office?

The opportunity to give back to the community that has been so important in my life. I retired in Deadwood and want to be a part of it’s growth.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

My professional work and life experience, and my communication skills will serve as a foundation for performing the various elements of this position.

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

I have not held an elected public office and I do not believe that being elected to a public office guarantees you possess leadership skills. I have served in numerous leadership roles though out my professional career.

How many city council meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

I have attended at least three.

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your community?

Lack of adequate accessible parking for visitors and business personnel

The negative atmosphere created by parking meters

Lack of activities for families of those participate in gaming, and for non gamers.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

I will work toward a comprehensive plan to provide more parking and to eliminate the use of parking meters.

What do you believe is working for your community and how will you retain that progression?

I believe there are many positives things happening and I will do my best to help enhance existing positive trends and formulate new paths forward.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I am committed to helping ensure Deadwood continues to be an enjoyable place to live and work, as well as a sought after visitor destination

What is one thing Deadwood can do to bring more people, spending more money, to town?

Ensure visitors have a memorable and enjoyable experience while visiting. Ensure there are activities for families and those who want to do things other than gaming.

Word of mouth is an excellent advertising tool.

How can Deadwood revitalize its Main Street businesses?

We have many vital businesses in Deadwood.  City administration needs to work with these, and future business, to help cultivate an environment of partnership and service to our patrons.

Is Deadwood spending its money responsibly?

I don’t have the information necessary to formulate an appropriate answer to this question.  However, if I am elected to this position and I become aware of irresponsible expenditures I will do what I can to protect the interest of the residents of Deadwood.

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