Big changes pending for council
Testerman only councilor challenged
March 12. 2013 2:10PM
The city council will see more than half of its seats change hands this spring when terms of five councilors come to an end May 6.
Of the five, only ward 4 Councilor Carrie Testerman will pursue another term. Challenging her is Dell Rapids businessman and property owner Lee Burggraff.
Ward 1 residents Gary Haak and Hubert ‘Skip’ Tool are both biding for the council seat held by Todd Wiebenga since 2002. Wiebenga will step down.
Replacing ward 2 Councilors James Rueckert and Keith DeLange are local contractor and property owner Mark Crisp and engineer Paul Miles.
And with semi-retired farmer, truck driver and property owner Mike Geraets replacing Mark Downs in ward 3, at least four new policy makers will be sworn in before summer.
Mayor Scott Fiegen will serve his sixth term – third consecutive – as no one challenged his office.
City Administrator Justin Weiland said a council workshop will be held for incoming councilors to get them up to speed on city operations, budgets and projects before they take office.
Seeking a fourth term on council, Testerman said she plans to do door-to-door campaigning in ward 4 in hopes of beating Burggraff in the April 9 election at the Dell Rapids Fire Station.
“I try to follow the direction of the people in my ward,” she said of why she thinks she’s been a quality councilor for seven years.
Now serving as council president, Testerman said she still has plenty to bring to the table, and plans to continue to press the council on being more proactive in bringing new businesses to town.
But aside from policy, Testerman said she’s the only person bringing a female's perspective to city conversations.
“I don’t think a council should be all male,” she said. With no other females pursuing seats, Testerman said it’s important she maintains hers.
For Burggraff, he has economic development on his mind.
“The council hasn’t put enough focus on industrial development,” he said.
Dell Rapids needs industry to keep real estate taxes in check, Burggraff said.
The upcoming S.D. Highway 115 project, which is expected to span two years and divert a lot of traffic onto city streets, will require heavy dialogue between the state transportation department and the council.
“It’s going to take a strong council when DOT comes and puts this new highway in so we don’t get taken advantage of,” Burggraff said.
Ward 1 will have new representation on the council – Tool hopes its him. A retiree and part-time cashier at T&C’s Other Place, Tool has experience in local government. The Rapid City native served on the Stevensville, Mont. City Council in the 1990s.
Tool said since he and wife Jackie, originally from Dell Rapids, moved back in 1998, he hasn’t seen the type of growth in the community he wants and expects.
“We’re just not growing,” he said. “We’ve become a bedroom community for Sioux Falls.”
Tool said he’d like to see industrial, retail and dining growth.
Tool's opponent, Gary Haak, said he decided to run to give back.
“Dell Rapids is a great community to live in, and I want to help keep it a great community,” he said. “Dells has been good to me, and I want to see if I can help Dell Rapids continue to grow.”
Haak said he’d like to see more attention paid to the parks, specifically the bathhouses.
“I would like to see us get new bathhouses down at the city park,” he said. “I think they need some updating and hopefully we can do something like that.”