BELLE FOURCHE — Residents head to the polls on Tuesday, April 13 to elect candidates for the Belle Fourche Ward 3. 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.
1) What is your name and what do you do for a living?
Sowers, I currently am part owner in Sowers & Son Dirty Laundry, I help run and operate the business. We have 7 locations, from Belle Fourche to Rapid City, and about 25-30 employees. I have been helping my dad, Clark Sowers run this business for the last 5 years.
2) What motivated you to run for this office? If elected, what will be your priorities?
I felt called to run for office after the federal elections. My priorities will be:
1.Serving the community and having the city serve the community.
2.. Making sure we are providing the basic needs of water and sewer to our citizens.
3.. Doing more with less.
3) Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
1. Servant leadership formed from running a company. 2. Being around my father running a business for the past 40 years.
4) With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?
I served on my local Church council for 3 years.
5) How many city council meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?
I have watched on zoom or been to 3 meetings.
6) Do you subscribe to Belle Fourche’s legal newspaper, the Black Hills Pioneer? How do you stay up to date with current local news?
Yes, I get both papers, they are how I get the local news outside of talking to people.
7) What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your community?
Prioritizing city Roads, water, and sewer over any other project.
8) How do you intend to address these issues?
Through prioritizing our spending and doing more with less by having less waste. This may require restructuring how our city conducts our business so that we are more efficient with our work and dollars.
9) What do you believe is working for your community and how will you retain that progression?
That’s a great question. I think we have a foundation to work with like our history, attraction, beauty, gateway to the hills, center of the nation, but we aren’t doing much with that. We have made some improvements to our infrastructure like 8th Avenue, but that project was a mess, we need to take care of our roads, water and sewer before we can attract people. It was nice that economic development finally got their money, we do need to focus on doing better job on working with economic development, it shouldn’t have taken that long to complete that.
10) Do you think the Belle Fourche State Street/Downtown district is healthy and successful? Why or why not, and what would you do to change that?
I think its healthier than it has been in years, we are seeing newer businesses come in and even updating their buildings. There are still things we could do to increase our downtown health but the downtown nights during the summer are a step in the right direction, fixing the walking path to the beautiful forks would also help.
11) What is more important for our city right now: building new homes and commercial spaces or rehabbing/expanding/better utilizing our existing homes and storefronts?
I think we are way behind in providing the basic needs for our city as it is. How can we support new homes when Prairie Hills doesn’t have adequate water and neither does Hat Ranch.
12) The more a local government can provide in the way of transparency, the more it increases trust, honesty, and integrity in the government leaders. Do you believe transparency within the city government could be improved upon? If so, how would you propose increasing transparency?
To many heads of departments and not one person for the council to go to causes transparency problems between council and what is being done. It would help to have one person to lead the city daily functions like a city administrator, instead of multiple heads of departments, this does not mean people lose their jobs but a restructuring of how we do business so that there is one person responsible for enforcing the decisions of the city council. Transparency is easier when there is a head and real leadership at the top of both the city departments and of the council. It was failed leadership that made economic development wait 6 months to get the money we owed them. Should have happened sooner.
13) What would you do to advocate in support of economic development in Belle Fourche, and why?
More transparency between the city council and economic development, this would benefit both parties. Economic development would have gotten their money earlier and the city would be in a better spot if there was more transparency on both parties. We need to support economic development so that economic development can support the city. It needs to be a win for both the city and economic development.
14) The new housing study released in January again found that Belle Fourche has a significant need for affordable housing. How do you feel the city should respond to the issue?
Again we need to start with taking care of our streets, water, and sewer. If we are serving our citizens and making it easy for people and businesses to do business with us, then Belle Fourche will develop in time.
15) Collaboration in local government involves working across institutional boundaries to engage individuals and entities in an effort to develop better conditions for the entire community. What is your perspective on the best ways to collaborate with other levels of local government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the entire area?
What makes Belle Fourche the best version of itself? That needs to be our central vision and goal. When collaborating it needs to be a win for both entities.
16) What is the single most important stance you want to take if elected?
Taking care of our basic needs, roads, water, and sewer.
Dean Brunner is running for the Ward 3 Belle Fourche City Council seat. However, he did not return a questionnaire.
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