Meet the Candidates: Mayor of Whitewood | Local News


WHITEWOOD – Residents of Whitewood go to the polls on Tuesday, April 12 to elect a candidate for mayor of Whitewood. The Black Hills Pioneer sent out a candidate questionnaire to those vying for the position, which carries a three-year term. The board nominees’ responses are posted below as received. If necessary, answers have been edited slightly for length.

Name and what do you do for a living?

Mike Weyrich, independent business owner and retired South Dakota National Guard

What motivated you to apply for this position?

My heart is in Whitewood, I’ve lived there most of my life. I want to continue to support the community in which I grew up.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

Guard gave me experience in making decisions, developing and delivering projects.

With respect to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit positions have you held?

Other positions I have held are Mayor, City Council, Fire Chief, President of the Chamber of Commerce, President of Whitewood’s 125th Celebration, Whitewood Wrestling Club.

How many city council meetings have you attended in the last year and during your candidacy?

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal journal, the Black Hills Pioneer?

The online version is my first “reading” and then I read it at Whitewood Town Hall.

What are the most important issues that need to be resolved in your community?

Annexation, unapproved streets, storm sewers, drainage and following master plan.

How do you plan to solve these problems?

Communication with municipal services and citizens. Research grant opportunities, status and funding sources.

What do you think is working for your community and how will you sustain that progress?

Hear from department heads about their ideas for progression as they air their concerns. Continue to work with and support volunteer clubs such as PTO, 8-10, Whitewood Chamber of Commerce and Senior Citizens.

What is the most important position you want to take if elected to the city council?

Again, communication is key. Communicating with City Council, department heads and citizens of Whitewood. Citizens are invited to share their concerns directly with me.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

To support the Global Plan and the motions already in place.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I have lived in Whitewood for 59 years. During this time, I have seen a progression and I would like to see it continue.

Is Whitewood developing properties at a reasonable rate or does a change need to be made? Why or why not?

Yes, Whitewood must be open to change because change is all around us. We need more discussion and accountability from developers and landowners.

Should new land be annexed? Why or why not?

Yes, an annexation study has been done by the city. The City of Whitewood already provides some services outside the city limits. The most important are the citizens favorable to the annexations.

Should Whitewood build a new community center or are the town’s current facilities adequate?

Yes, we are outgrowing our current decades-old facilities. A mixed-use facility that can house municipal offices and other services as well as recreational use under one roof could be cost effective. As long as it’s built without using city funds. The citizens of Whitewood need to come forward and voice their concerns.

Name and what do you do for a living?

My name is Mitchell U. Harmon. I am a widower currently retired and am starting a Quarter Horse breeding project.

What motivated you to apply for this position?

Funny enough, there was a disagreement about an alley near my house in 2011, so I ran for City Council, Ward III. I was elected as a city councilor in 2012. Then, in 2014, I ran for mayor and held that position for eight years.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

I have experience running small businesses [Owned a small tavern in Colorado for eleven years], production manager at Dakota Arms and service manager at Northern Hills Homes. A city should be run no differently from a business.

With respect to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit positions have you held?

I served on council for two years and have been the current mayor of Whitewood for eight years.

How many city council meetings have you attended in the last year and during your candidacy?

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal journal, the Black Hills Pioneer?

No. My current position keeps me well informed of what is happening in Whitewood.

What are the most important issues that need to be resolved in your community?

A worrying issue is the number of drugs coming from outside Whitewood.

Second, new housing developments are being started in Whitewood and voluntary annexation has begun.

How do you plan to solve these problems?

We have received a grant to fund a K9 unit for use in Whitewood and the northern Black Hills, and we must maintain our current 24/7 approach to protect our citizens.

The second issue is that we need to make sure the city, developer, and engineering work as a team to make sure all ordinances are followed. Doing so will ensure a smooth transition for the infrastructure to be transferred to the City.

What do you think is working for your community and how will you sustain that progress?

For eight years, the City has lived within its means. So I’m proud that we had a balanced budget and that we have money left over at the end of each year.

What is the most important position you want to take if elected mayor?

Maintain the current staff of the Police Department, the Public Works Department and the Office of Finance. These people have done a remarkable job during my tenure.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Pursue a disciplined and well-thought-out approach to expanding the availability of housing in the city. Continue to improve our domestic water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. We are currently working with our engineering firm to upgrade the sewage treatment plant. We are also looking into adding new domestic water retention facilities which would encourage possible revenue streams in the future. The current Laurel Street project will address the storm water problem near the Hideaway Restaurant.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I grew up on a ranch and went to school in a small town. If you ask me anything, you can rest assured that I’ll give you a straight answer, whether you like it or not. That being said, my passion for horses has taken me out of town from time to time to start my equestrian operation. But I can most certainly assure you that Whitewood is still a priority for me. I promise you that I have the best interests of the City in my mind and in my heart. I am in daily contact with all the services of the City.

Is Whitewood developing properties at a reasonable rate or does a change need to be made? Why or why not?

Whitewood’s topography limits the type and style of growth that can take place. We have carried out engineering studies to make the best use of the land available. We expand development strategies to help developers drive future growth.

Should new land be annexed? Why or why not?

Yes, we must continue to invest in our region, otherwise it is only a matter of time before another municipality annexes us.

Should Whitewood build a new community center or are the town’s current facilities adequate?

No, I don’t think the City should build a new community center, and here’s why. There are three community centers within a 20 minute drive of Whitewood. Sturgis, the 17th largest city in SD, Spearfish, the 10th largest city in SD, and Belle Fourche, the 19th largest city in SD. Whitewood is currently the 76th largest city in SD, funding and operating a community center would require us to raise taxes to cover expenses. While Hale Hall may not be the fanciest community center, it serves our city quite well. However, if the current group of county residents investigating a new community center can make their staffing plan work, that would be something to consider.

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