Allender Wins Rapid City Mayor’s Race, Says Talking About Racism Divisive

About 2% of Rapid City voters sent Sam Kooiker home and made Steve Allender mayor last night. Without rigorous polling, it’s anyone’s guess as to which issue swayed that two percent.

Clearly not swaying that 2% were allegations of Allender’s racist conduct toward American Indians. If Native voters took such allegations seriously, they didn’t show up in numbers large enough to make a difference. If white voters took such allegations seriously, they were outnumbered by those who took Allender’s denial more seriously than his destruction of evidence.

Voters and the media certainly talked about the allegations from Allender’s former Rapid City police colleague Glen Yellow Robe. Now Mayor-Elect Allender says talking about racist behavior is divisive:

Allender has said the focus on the Yellow Robe allegations was divisive, and he reiterated that concern Tuesday night while discussing what he considered to be negative campaigning by Kooiker.

“It possibly served to divide the community a little more, and that’s unfortunate,” Allender said, “but we’re starting out now and we’re looking forward, not back” [Seth Tupper, “Allender Handily Defeats Incumbent Kooiker for Rapid City Mayor,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.06.03].

That’s good rhetorical judo: you can’t talk about how I might hurt race relations, because your talk makes race relations worse. But it’s not good governance. If a mayor, candidate, or community has problems, we need to talk about them, air them out, and fix them. If a former city employee accuses his boss of fostering an oppressively racist work environment, we need to talk seriously about those accusations, not dismiss racist comments as friendly office banter and point at squirrels.


14 Responses to Allender Wins Rapid City Mayor’s Race, Says Talking About Racism Divisive

  1. Roger Elgersma

    Clearly the Rapid City voters do not think government makes a difference or they would have voted. Maybe there were not impressed with either. One is racist and one wanted to spend to much money. Maybe the whites and Natives are the same in that they do not see government making a right difference so they have to make a difference themselves. But government should have a proper purpose in society so I am disappointed in that whole mess when a recent racist problem does not motivate people to vote to make a difference.

  2. Allender’s win proves just the opposite, championing racism is a proven winner. Netanyahoo over in Israel proved it and so did he. Stan should be proud.

  3. As a Kooiker supporter over the years, I was rooting for Sam, but welcome change.

    Rapid City is able to flush their politicians with regularity. Something our state and federal electors need to consider.

  4. Based upon comments I’ve heard from those who live in Rapid City and were aware of both candidates, it seemed most people weren’t all that excited about either candidate, however since Kooiker made some fatal mistakes in the past few years and seemed to display an attitude that he would rather go it alone instead of working towards consensus, my guess is the voters just wanted a change.

    So it isn’t that the voters supported Allendar as much as they voted against Kooiker. Then again with only 2% of the voters making the decision, this could be nothing more than a statistical anomaly so perhaps we can’t read into it. Clearly Allendar is open to a worthy challenger in the future, so he might not want to waste time decorating the office just in case.

  5. I’d echo the comment that folks just were not excited about the race. Allender’s statements on race and his handling of the issue do not sit well with me. I do not believe he’s going to be able to help Rapid City lose it’s racist moniker. I don’t think he even cares to. Kooiker hasn’t been a phenomenal mayor, though, and he didn’t do enough to champion any kind of vision for Rapid in his campaign. Then again, neither did Allender.

    The long and short of it is, they’re two sides of the same coin. They’re both conservative, older white men whose talking points could be read straight out of an Anywhere USA campaign booklet. Speaking from the perspective of a young person who isn’t from here, neither of these guys stand out as visionary leaders who will make this city a more integrated, livable place. It will be more of the same, and either two or four years from now, someone will boot out Allender. I can only hope it is someone who fits a different profile.

  6. Douglas Wiken

    Kooiker probably was defeated by an informal coalition of minorities that incumbents accumulate. I heard more than a few Rapid Citians wishing there was a “none of the above option”.

    Kooiker probably also forgot or never knew that actions which anger 10 whites and make 100 Native Americans, don’t produce proportionate election results. My guess is 10 pissed off Whites will vote and maybe 1 or 2 out of 100 pleased Native Americans will make the effort to vote. That turnout also has nothing to do with ease of voting.

  7. Mr. Wiken, were you at Talley’s on Sunday morning? There was a large contingent of old white men of which the majority seemed to be against Mr. Kooiker. That’s probably your 10 pissed off Whites right there.

    To the waitresses annoyance there were a number of you, and you know who you are, who were just sipping coffee and not ordering food.

  8. Kooiker and Allender as two sides of the same coin… Sabrina, can candidates of significantly different flavors gain any currency in Rapid City politics? Who can offer a profile and vision that would unite the surely diverse “none of the above” voters Douglas mentions into a majority voting bloc?

  9. Douglas Wiken

    Rapid City police had a lousy record under Allender. Check Rapid City speed traps. What did he get done with all the murders along Rapid Creek. Too many of his cops behaved like thugs.

    I do not think people like Allender who have wielded nearly total power over a population with life and death powers will make good mayors. Their my- way- or- the- highway or worse attitudes do not make for good governance, but rather more harassment under color of authority.

  10. well wik, they are not necessarily all/or any murders. but the currency for mayor allender appears to have been stan’s. i like Roger’s recent terse comment. it is funny that with race being divisive, allender deleted his pre-election tweets or posts or what not :)

    it worked for rounds and daugaard and tidemann restricting knowledge of EB5.

  11. “If a mayor, or candidate, or community has problems we need to talk about them, air them out, and fix them…not dismiss racist comments as friendly office banter and point at squirrels.”

    And not write blogs that fan the fire with inflammatory rhetoric.

  12. You’re right, David! You let me know right away if you see any blogs committing such an atrocious act, and I’ll write blog posts about them right away!

    Or I might just ignore them and keep writing the useful and entertaining blog posts that you find on Dakota Free Press every day.

  13. Don’t flatter yourself.

  14. What? I said I’d go after anyone making the atrocious inflammatory comments you impute to blogs, and I gave you three examples of such blogs. That’s what you were talking about, right? Right?