Hennies v. Kooiker blogpost over at Mt. Blogmore
I'm going to be watching the comment section on this post with some interest. And I'll be curious to see where this election ends up a week from now. Do the residents of Rapid City want to replace someone who is on the upswing of his political career (describing him as a popular young councilman) with someone such as Hennies, who is on the long downhill slide after term limits removed him from office?
I've always thought of the Rapid City Council as a place where younger politicians test the waters to see if they have the mettle for future battles. That's in stark contrast to the Pennington County Commission, where it seems that politicians go to die like the legendary elephant graveyards of Africa. Somewhere in the Pennington County Courthouse, I imagine a closet with the skeletons of faded political careers.
Mark Kirkeby is an exception, as it seems he's trying to be smart enough to get out of the courthouse, and run for the legislature. The downside is that without him, the average age of the commission hovers somewhere between 60 and 75. Not a criticism, per se, but it doesn't represent a very broad spectrum of county residents.
Anyway, the Journal also has an article on the race here where it's noted:
Is Rapid City prepared to replace it's future with it's past? Only election day will tell.
Hennies served three years in the U.S. Army, 35 years on the Rapid City Police Department including 16 years as chief of police, and eight years in the Legislature. He is a member of the city’s planning commission.
“I’ve never been real reticent. With me, what you see is what you get,” he said. “You’ll never walk away saying, ‘I wonder what he meant by that.’ Even if people don’t like what I say, they know that I mean it.”
Kooiker said that in his four years on the council, he has focused on holding elected officials accountable, fighting for taxpayers and being responsive to constituents.
“I’m responsive to constituents. I’m not there for myself,” he said. “I believe city hall has been too secretive for too long, and I’ve worked hard to change the culture. I believe in many cases, city hall is much more open than it was before.”
Some of the successes Kooiker touts include helping secure funds to clean the East Meade drainage channel and leading the charge for improved street repair.
“We have a number of streets that are now on the capital improvements list. One of my goals, and I believe one of my accomplishments, has been to focus capital improvements funds more on capital improvements in terms of streets and drainage rather than continuously using that money for other projects,” he said.
When knocking on doors in his ward, Kooiker hears from people who want city government to be more responsive to them. He pushed for making meetings available for listening over the Internet on streaming audio and keeping more accurate minutes.