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As election approaches, Rapid City mayoral candidates talk compromise

Brad Estes answers a question during the recent Rapid City mayoral forum held at the Dahl Arts Center.
C.J. Keene
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Brad Estes answers a question during the recent Rapid City mayoral forum held at the Dahl Arts Center.

Thursday Night saw most of Rapid City’s mayoral candidates share the stage and address the public at the Dahl Arts Center.

Among other things, education, infrastructure, and compromise for the growing city were addressed and asked about by voters.

While candidate and current city council member Jason Salamun says he’s prepared to find compromise, he won’t be budging on some issues.

“Now, standing your ground is things like – if I think you want to do something that’s going to harm children, like pornography in the libraries in the children’s section and boys in girls’ restrooms, those sorts of things, you’re going to hit a brick wall with me," Salamun said. "There’s no common ground there. But if its about finding things we can work together on, as I’ve tried to do, yes, we can do that.”

Another candidate and current councilor, Laura Armstrong, says her prior leadership experience primes her to work with her peers.

“As a council member and as council president for two years, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six years," Armstrong said. "It all starts with relationships. You don’t have to like me, but I was elected to do a job, council as elected to do a job, the mayor was elected to do a job. We need to work together for the betterment of Rapid City.”

Another current councilor is candidate Ron Wifenbach. He said meaningful compromise starts with listening and conversation.

“I can bring resolution to things: I have no problem with people bringing me ideas," Wifenbach said. "Matter of fact, I like it best when people do disagree with me. It makes me sharper. It makes me smarter. I know that I’m not the smartest guy in the room all the time, that’s for sure, but when people come and challenge me it makes me sharper. That’s how I’ve lived my life, that’s how I’ve managed throughout the years is finding resolutions. Making things happen and working together.”

Also in attendance was candidate Brad Estes, who has also previously served on the Wall and Rapid City Councils. He said his peers saw him as a consensus builder.

“If you’re willing to invest the time and listening to people to further understand the issues at hand and the problems we’ve tried to solve, then you’re better able to bring a solution forward that will be supported by a majority of the people,” Estes said.

Outsider candidate Josh Lyle was not in attendance.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture