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Kooiker Wisely Vetoes Three-Year Terms for Self and City Council

Last updated on 2015.04.01

Kudos to Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker, for vetoing his city council's move to extend the terms of city commissioners and the mayor himself from two years to three.

Kooiker, who has largely stayed out of the public debate until this point, released a statement Monday saying he strongly believed that the Rapid City Council had erred in not allowing the voters of Rapid City to have the final say on longer terms.

"This action is motivated by a firm conviction that the citizens of Rapid City should decide if those benefits are more important than the benefits of shorter terms," Kooiker wrote in his veto message. "The town hall meetings confirmed the best course of action is to allow the people to decide" [Emilie Rusch, "Kooiker Vetoes Longer Terms for City Council," Rapid City Journal, 2012.02.28].

Longer-term supporters like the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce are hyperventilating that the mayor's veto somehow undercuts the City Council and "shows a lack of confidence."

Um, no, a veto is simply a veto. As Alderman Jordan Mason notes, a veto is simply part of the checks and balances that we write into our system of government. The city council approved the longer terms on a 6-4 vote. The mayor disagrees with that vote. The city council is welcome to overturn that veto.

On the issue itself, I welcome short terms for local officials. The more often those officials have to run, the more opportunities they get to do the first job of statesmen and stateswomen: to lead a public conversation about the issues facing their communities. Elections are great opportunities for conversations. Asking Rapid City councillors to defend their record and advocate their visions for the city once every two years is far from an onerous burden. It is a recipe for engaged democracy.


  1. Bill Fleming 2012.02.28

    Good for Sam. Especially considering the Council already cast enough votes to override his veto. If they want to, let them do it. Personally, I agree with Sam. Why not let the voters decide?

  2. mike 2012.02.28

    I can't stand term limits for the legislature.

    2 years is a lot of campaigning and not much governing. 4 years is a better move.

  3. Ed Randazzo 2012.02.29

    Cory, Is this the 3rd or 4th issue we are on the same side? I'm old and "morbidly obese" and I can't recall.

  4. larry kurtz 2012.02.29

    you and mike verchio must be twin sons of different mothers, ed.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.29

    At the local level, Mike, two-year cycles are fine. The campaigns are good opportunities for putting municipal affairs in focus.

    Steady, Ed. The real hoop-shaker will come if we start agreeing on legislative candidates.

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