Dordt College News

Kooiker loses close race for Rapid City mayor

August 3, 2007

Reprinted w/permission from Sioux County Index

From Boyden to Rapid City mayoral candidate, Sam Kooiker has chosen to be involved in his community through politics.

Kooiker graduated from Dordt College in 1996 majoring in Psychology and graduated from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1998 with a Master’s in Public Administration.

In 1999, he married Jennifer King and they moved to Rapid City, SD. Kooiker was appointed to the Rapid City Planning Commission in 2001 and was elected to the Rapid City Common Council in 2002. He is now serving his third term on the council. The couple has three daughters.

Earlier this year he announced his intention to run for the mayor of Rapid City in the June 5 election. He was joined by other six candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Mayor Jim Shaw.

Kooiker said he wanted to focus on managing city affairs and opening lines of communication between the mayor’s office and city council.

“City Hall is not responsive to people’s concerns and I believe it’s because of the lack of open government and lack of openness,” he said. “There is a lack of leadership at City Hall.”

Apparently the voters agreed with him when Kooiker and state Rep. Alan Hanks finished in the top two in the city’s mayoral election setting the stage for a runoff on July 26.

Kooiker finished with 3864 votes, 33 percent of the total ballots cast and Hanks came in second with 3352, or nearly 29 percent.

Incumbent Jim Shaw finished a distant third with 2317, just under 20 percent falling short of attaining his fifth term in the mayor’s office. The other five candidates combined, had 18 percent.

But, even though he started with an early lead, Kooiker lost the runoff race by 760 votes last Tuesday, when Hanks defeated him 5921 to 5158.

Although dismayed by the result, Kooiker said he was proud of the way he conducted his campaign.

“I ran a good race,” he said. “Although I’m disappointed, I very much enjoyed the experience and look forward to working with Alan over the next two years.”

Kooiker said he would go back to work on the council and continue to fight for issues that are important for the community.

“I believe many of the issues I brought to the table during the campaign are now receiving the attention they need,” he said. “I’m excited I had a role in this election of helping to define the issues that Rapid City is facing over the years.”

“Although I didn’t win the election, I am grateful for the tremendous support that I received and this has been a great experience,” he added.

Kooiker credited Western Christian teacher Roger Vis, a 1966 graduate of Dordt College, with planting the seeds of interest in public service and he said his dad was instrumental in encouraging his run for the city council in 2002.

“Both of my parents have been very supportive and I am grateful for their influence in my life,” he said.

In addition to his role on the city council, Kooiker is a supervisor of 120 employees and two Golden West call centers in South Dakota.

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