Candidates asked tough questions

Leslie SIlverman
By Leslie Silverman
A Keystone Town Board candidate forum on March 28 in Keystone drew a handful of residents to listen to the ideas of incumbent Matt Fullilove and challenger David Cofoid.
The two reiterated their stances on why people should vote for them, with Fullilove saying he is running on his record and Cofoid stressing his communication platform.
A majority of questions were asked by Keystone finance officer Samantha Epler and included things like the most important projects that need to be completed over the next three years and how each candidate would address concerns while keeping the best interests of the town in mind. Both candidates agreed that infrastructure projects are the town’s greatest needs, with sewer and water topping those lists. Fullilove wants to see more unique businesses in town and says he has personally communicated with T-shirt shop owners.
As for communication, Fullilove says he believes in confidentiality when it comes to sensitive issues, which he says he is good at. 
Cofoid sees giving a voice to businesses by talking to business owners.  
“Some of  the businesses  have no say as a vote but without them we wouldn’t have as much coming into town as we have,” Cofoid said.
The most controversial questions though came from residents themselves. 
Sherry Smith wanted to know who the “Christian family caucus of Keystone”  is,  referring to Fullilove’s candidate profile as printed  in the Hill City Prevailer.
“Will (Parks) Sandi (McLain) and me,” Fullilove said. “Basically we don’t talk, conspire or collude with each other. What I’m saying is we all have the same vision ... this park, infrastructure.”
He said the three don’t have an agenda. When pressed by Smith, Fullilove did not feel the remark was “discriminatory.”
“I don’t think so at all. Some of us go to church and we’re Christian and there’s no conflict there,” Fullilove said. He continued, “God, family, country ... we’re all pretty much in the same group.” 
He said one of their biggest traits was to always come together.
He referred to the other board members as a “radical minority” because of what “they have tried the last several years” by killing the chamber and slashing the park board. Fullilove specifically referred to trustee Casey McNulty’s actions as “chaotic.” He also said none of this division changes how he votes on issues. 
“I’m not here to vote against somebody,” Fullilove said.
Fullilove said he is already a big fan of Keystone and that the town’s community events sets it apart from other towns in the Black Hills. He repeatedly said how supportive he is to all the organizations in town. He also said he loved the benefits people organize for other people in need. 
“That is the epitome of community; that is great,” he said.
Epler asked candidates how they plan on accomplishing their goals for the town by being fiscally responsible.
Fullilove said he loves looking for grants. He sees being proactive as essential.
Cofoid said the board needs to “quit listening to individuals and listen to groups.”
Cofoid was concerned that listening to one person making a complaint to the town board “cost the city a lot of money,” referring to the idea of moving the town yard closer to the town sewer plant.
Residents like Lynette Tyon were concerned about private property being in the floodplain, making specific reference to Dahl’s Chainsaw Art. Others, like Jerry Przybylski, wanted to see the town move to a seasonal sheriff only, as opposed to the year-round position the city currently contracts for. Both candidates seemed to support these ideas.
One citizen asked about how each candidate resolves conflict, referring to a noticeable tension on the current board. Fullilove said he makes calls and texts in an effort to resolve issues on the board.  
“I got crickets because nothing changed,” he said. “No phone calls back. No working together. I did my part more than once. Still same old toxic skuttlebutt happens. Untrue. False. Dishonest stuff.” 
He said, “If we just go by the code of ethics ... have decorum. That’s what you want. On and on.”
Cofoid said from what he has observed at meetings, “You get three people on one side and two people on the other side, for one thing. Split them up.”  
Cofoid was referring to physically rearranging where the trustees sit in relation to one another.
“If you have a conflict,  and you can’t settle it between two people have the board president go and try to change it,” he said, adding, “you’ve got to work for the better of the community. I think that’s the number one goal of the board.”  
Throughout the evening the town’s new ethics ordinance was brought up. 
It was also asked if trustees undergo background checks, which they do not.
Voters can decide who they would like to see as the next Keystone Town Board trustee by casting a vote on April 9. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

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