Mayor Jerry Krambeck, Spearfish, South Dakota, 2013

The Oligarch?

Spearfish holds its city election Tuesday. My neighbors have two choices for mayor: three more years of Mayor Jerry Krambeck, who has held the position since 2000, or political newcomer Dana Boke, who says Krambeck runs an oligarchy that she will overthrow with a new regime of managerial listening and collaboration.

Dana Boke, Candidate for Spearfish Mayor, 2013

The Pretender

Always eager to overthrow oligarchy, I have read Dana Boke's campaign website and Facebook page. I listened closely at the Spearfish candidates forum March 27.

Dana Boke is full of crap, and she's not a good crap salesman. I know, because she sounds a lot like me... in eighth grade.

In 1984, the Presidential election had my friends and me spouting some kind of political nonsense (yes, some things never change). Our eighth grade teacher, Cheryl White, indulged us one day and permitted some sort of political speeches during class. One of my friends stood up and recited things he'd heard from his parents and TV about Ronald Reagan. I stood up and preached Quadism.

What the...?!

Oh, Quadism was a new party, a new movement. The Republicans and Democrats were old parties, like an old tree that would snap and topple in the winds of change. But Quadism was a young tree, able to bend and withstand the tempest.

I didn't actually say tempest in Miss White's classroom, but (memo from time-traveling self) I should have. Tempest would have fit the sound, the tone, the rhetorical force I heard echoing in my imagination. I wanted to rouse the crowd through metaphor and familiar memes (another word we didn't know in eighth grade)... because I had no clue what I would do if I were President or Congressman or any kind of practical policymaker.

Neither does Dana Boke, and she's not an eighth grader. She's applying to be mayor of South Dakota's eleventh-largest and first-prettiest (you want to rumble?) city, and when asked to define the most important role of the mayor, she says something about being a "cheerleader of sorts," then struggles to stammer out a vague patchwork of her own campaign slogans:

Good night, Dana! You're applying for a job. It shouldn't be that hard for you to lay out your two-minute understanding of that job. And if you really think the mayor's main role is cheerleader, you'd better discover the key to good cheerleading: enthusiasm!

Boke returns in almost every statement, live and online, to her main selling point: change. I've heard people in Spearfish say they're ready for change, too. But change to what? A bunch of dull management seminar rhetoric? Listening to Dana Boke makes me feel like I'm at a really bad school in-service: she says a bunch of carefully crafted words, but when she gets done, she hasn't really said anything.

None of Boke's public statements have included any examples of the strongarming, the not-listening, the personal agendas, or the oligarchy she says she's fighting. The suggestion that you fight oligarchy by replacing a janitor with a banker is first-blush laughable. Boke could stave off my laughter if she'd name names: tell us who the oligarchs are, what harmful agenda they're pushing, whom they've strongarmed, whom they've favored, and what policy changes you'll make to end that oligarchical favoritism.

But no. The only vaguely specific policy statement Boke has made actually sounds like more oligarchy. Boke says she wants to increase funding to the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation so it can be "proactive" instead of "reactive" (yeesh—more empty management-speak). Boke is a professed fiscal conservative advocating more government spending on crony capitalism... even though Spearfish rocks the socks off other communities that spend much more on economic development.

Dana, I'm from Madison. I know oligarchy. I know the damage oligarchy can do to economic opportunity and local culture. If an oligarchy is harming Spearfish, then by gum, we need to change it. Spearfish neighbors, I urge you to vote for a knowledgeable, forceful leader who can make that change.

Alas, Dana Boke's flat version of my eighth-grade political speech about change shows she's not the leader we oligarchy fighters are looking for.

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Disclaimer: Jerry Krambeck paid me money to build his campaign website. His money does not buy him my opinion on the Madville Times.