Candidates hoping for student vote

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

The Brookings City Council elections are April 8, and those running for a seat on the council want SDSU students’ votes.

Every candidate except Larry Mix participated in a forum held in the Market of The Union on March 27 at 1 p.m. The Students’ Association sponsored the forum, and SA President Chris Daugaard was mediator.

Ginger Thomson was the first of the five candidates to speak in the forum. She has been on the city council since May 2005. “The city and SDSU enjoy a wonderful partnership ?” she said. “We want to continue that, and I can help by continuing to move this energetic and growing community ? forward.”

Ryan Brunner is another candidate. Brunner is currently on the City Council after being appointed in August 2007. Brunner was SA President for the 2004-05 school year, graduated from SDSU with a degree in agricultural economics in December 2007 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the same field. He spoke about the relationship and unique partnerships that exist between the campus and community and said that, as a city councilman so far, he has worked to “provide a unique link between the campus and community to help maintain that relationship,” he said.

Mike Bartley is running for reelection. He has been a resident of Brookings since 1974 and has family ties to SDSU. “It’s a vibrant community, a vibrant university,” he said. “All of us spend an awful lot of time trying to get input, to get your opinions ? to try to make a decision that benefits all of us.”

Mike McClemans, who has been a lifelong resident of Brookings, is also a candidate. He is a local businessperson involved in real estate, who has served on the council from 1999-2005.

Joyce Hodges, the fifth candidate, served eight years in the South Dakota House of Representatives as well as 12 years as a Kingsbury County Commissioner. Her husband and two sons are graduates of SDSU and her grandson is attending SDSU, so she is “very interested in what happens here,” she said. “I love Brookings? and I want to make it a better place to live. ? I have the time, and I have the experience. ? We have to work together on the issues that will do us all the most good.”

Some of the issues the candidates talked about included city issues such as the airport, railroad, Interstate 29 overpass and storm water drainage. They also discussed the innovation campus infrastructure.

“The opportunities for research development and technology transfer are unlimited?” Thomson said. “It’s imperative to build out the infrastructure ? as soon as possible on those 126 acres to make it as marketable as soon as possible.”

They also discussed how to improve entertainment options for the community and the students. Along with this discussion was the topic of the Third B tax – a one percent tax on pre-prepared foods, hotels and alcohol sales – of which a certain percentage of the money collected goes into a fund for SDSU students to use to bring entertainment options to Brookings.

Another topic was the boarding house issue and role of the code enforcer that the city council is hiring. “Housing is always a top issue,” McClemans said.

The main point of this code enforcer and the boarding house issue is to eliminate the “slum lords,” Bartley said, and be more proactive in their approach to the issue of substandard housing. The city council wants to make sure they keep up with both landlords and tenants and provide safe, decent housing for not only student tenants but for everyone in the community.

Another large issue discussed at the forum was ways to make students feel more like citizens of Brookings. All of the candidates spoke about how the relationship between the campus and community has gotten better in the last few years and how they believe this trend will continue.

“A third of the community is students,” McClemans said. “Students have a huge economic impact in Brookings.”

“I know the city appreciates SDSU very much, and I feel that if I’m elected to the city council, I’ll be representing you just like every other resident of the city,” Hodges said.

There are three seats open on the council this year. One seat is a one-year term, for which Brunner, Hodges and Larry Mix (who could not attend the forum) are running for. The other two seats are three year terms; McClemans, Bartley and Thomson are running for those seats.

Anyone who is registered to vote in Brookings may vote in the upcoming elections. To find out where to vote or for more information on voting in Brookings, contact City Clerk Shari Thornes at 605-692-6281 or go to

#1.882670:3511678660.JPG:P3270068.JPG:Brookings City Council candidates Ginger Thomson, Ryan Brunner, Joyce Hodges and Michael McClemans attended a forum in The Union on March 27. (Not shown: Mike Bartley) Topics discussed included off-campus housing and student entertainment options.: