Student makes bid for city council seat

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

Ryan Brunner is a Computer Science and Ag Engineering major at SDSU. The 20 year old from Nisland, S.D. is running for a one-year term for city council in the April 13 election.

Brunner is being challenged by one other candidate, current councilman Mike McClemans.

Why did you decide to run for city council?

I got interested in running for city council when I lived here last summer. I’ve been involved in local politics back home, just as an activist, and involved in what was going on with my home community.

I lived here last summer and I have been going to school here for two years. There are 10,000 students here at SDSU and 18,000 people here in the city and we don’t have any voice of representation on the council right now.

We’re a great deal of the tax revenue and everything that supports this city, so we should have some level of representation and know what is going on.

Why do you think it’s important for young people to be on city council?

City council controls a great deal of what goes on in Brookings, like things from utilities to licenses, everything that goes on in the city of Brookings and all of the things that students use. Obviously all your sales tax goes to the city.

A lot of students aren’t even registered to vote here and don’t list their residency as Brookings when they live here for nine months out of the year and provide a great deal of that tax revenue that supports the city.

The unemployment rate for Brookings was rated at under 2 percent two city council meetings ago, but what those numbers don’t include are the discouraged wokers in the workforce, like students who have just stopped looking for jobs.

With the labor market here you would think that businesses would be attracted to Brookings. They can find workers pretty easily.

What are some other issues you want to address if elected?

The economy and housing are the two main goals I want to focus on. There are a lot of college students that live in sub-par housing in Brookings, because that’s what’s available.

Because the college keeps growing, there needs to be open communication between the college and the city so all of the issues are addressed.

Economically, I want to address business and job growth for the college students and the community we have here. SDSU’s motto is “You Can Go Anywhere from Here,” but it would be kind of nice to have some students stay here. You can go anywhere from here, and, unfortunately, a lot of students do. If there were more job opportunities, more would stay.

I was just elected to the SA senate. Being able to work with full organizations and facilitate between the two, by serving on both will be a huge asset for the university and the city of Brookings.

What kind of experience will you bring to a job like this?

In terms of economic development, when I was a junior in high school, a friend and I started a rope-making business. It was small-scale, just a few thousand dollars in revenue, but my major experience came from working with the SD Department of Agriculture.

In high school I worked with three other students and we got a $20,000 grant to start our own business to install vending machines in schools with extended shelf life milk that lasts 65 days.

We started at the local high school, and the school still runs that and gets those profits. We basically started our own business, wrote our business plan, got grant money and now the high school still runs the business.

My dad is also a small-town mechanic and has regularly employed two or three people for 30 years, so I have a lot of small business experience from that.

I’ve held almost any leadership position you can think of on the high school and college level.

[Many other leadership positions were discussed, but they were omitted due to space constraints.]

Are you worried about the low percentage of SDSU students who are registered to vote locally and the low number of young people who turnout to vote?

It’s always an issue. Our own S.A. elections only had a 20 percent turnout. You didn’t even have to register and could vote online. To get those students to actually take the time to register and take the time to go cast a vote is difficult. The deadline to register’s this Friday.