Householder, Johnson are Hill City Council candidates

Leslie Silverman

The Hill City election for Alderman for Ward II race features incumbent  Harold “Dale” Householder against challenger John Johnson.
Householder describes his occupation as actively retired, while Johnson is the  owner and operator of Johnson Communications. Householder has lived in  Hill City for 9 years.
Johnson has been a resident of Hill City for over 65 years plus. He has lived in the town since 1952 and graduated from grade school and high school in Hill City. He graduated from college in South Dakota, and has owned and operated a business based out of Hill City since 1976.
Householder has served for two years as an alderman on the council and says he is excited to serve for two more years if elected. He is seeking reelection because, “after serving for two years I realize that there are still many issues to address in Hill City. I believe that I can represent Ward II (and the city) with fairness and with an open mind. It is important to investigate issues before making a decision.”
Johnson is running because he  would like to see the city council start working for the residents of Hill City who voted [candidates] into their positions. He believes there needs to be more transparency between the council and the public again.
As for what each candidate feels they bring to the position of alderman, Householder says, “I have experience in construction as my wife Susan, and I remodeled and resold houses while living in Scottsbluff, Neb. I ran several retail and service businesses over the years. Therefore, I have leadership skills as well as experience supervising employees. I also worked for over 25 years as a medical and vocational case manager for workers compensation cases. Conflict resolution was often a necessary part of the job. I have a deep love for my community and desire to give my best to continue to promote it.”
 Johnson says that, “until two years ago, I served on the city council for almost 20 years. I never missed a meeting and did my best to research every issue that came before the board. I have good knowledge of the issues, and know the history of Hill City and the surrounding area better than most. I have not always been the most popular member on the council, but I am not afraid to voice my opinion or stand up for the  rights of our community members. ”
Householder says the duties of an Alderman to be “to represent the citizens of Ward II and the City of Hill City. To treat people with respect, to act responsively and fairly and to have an open mind on the issues before us.”
Householder adds he would “continue to work closely with Mayor Kathy (Skorzewski) and all the great employees at city hall. I will attend the council meetings on the second and fourth Monday nights, and I will continue to represent the city at local events. I feel it is important to research problems and new ideas before proceeding forward. I will continue to meet with local citizens to address their concerns.”
 Johnson says he sees the duties to be, “to serve the residents of our community; to oversee the taxpayers monies and spending; and to promote a positive, common sense and affordable growth for our community.”
When asked  what the three most important issues facing Hill City are Householder said it is hard to limit this issue to only three things; but that there is a list that includes:
• Infrastructure with sewer and water, street maintenance and improvements
• (New paving) that needs to be continually focused on both short-term plans and long range plans.
• Projects important to the town’s growth, including housing for families and seasonal workers. Houseolder said affordable housing is still a concern in our community and appraisals continue to climb each year.
“I did work with the economic development corporation and the city to get Bull Run subdivision up and going,” Householder said. “If you have not been behind Chute Rooster and observed this awesome community, please do so.
“We have many wonderful businesses in our town. However, several cannot get enough help to run their business efficiently and maintain their desired hours. So, labor force is a major concern for our community.”
Householder said the issue of a state-mandated dispensary for marijuana is a big concern for our community.
“I wholeheartedly agree we do not want this in our family friendly town,” he said. “However, it is state statute that we have one dispensary per town. The people of South Dakota voted this in. It is the law. Now we need to find a way to make it as non intrusive as possible. And should recreational marijuana get approved, we need to be ready to deal with this possible issue.”
Householder said another looming issue is that of inflation, which is currently running over 8 percent and  is a big concern for the city when the budget is set.
Johnson feels the three most important issues facing Hill City are:
• Infrastructure. He would like to see the city complete the addition of a water reservoir for the north/northeast side of Hill City.
“This is a project that has been identified as a need for Hill City yet it stuck in the planning stage for years,” he said. “(It’s) similar to the Main Street sidewalk project that took several years to reach completion, at a much inflated cost figure. The city taxpayers have already spent tens of thousands of dollars related to engineering fees, re-engineering fees, attorney fees and other miscellaneous fees and expenses.  Finish the project.”
• Hard surface streets and roads. He said to his knowledge, there has never been any major maintenance to the city streets. 
“We need to develop the long-term planning needed to keep our roads in good repair. Let’s not wait until our hard surface streets revert back to gravel, let’s develop the plan and invest in preventive maintenance,” he said. “For example, crack filling, pothole repair and seal coating will protect our investment for a longer life span. Finish the road paving (hard surface project) project that was started in 2008. Finish the original project that was started in 2008 to the residences in Hill City by finishing paving the gravel streets. A project that will benefit our community and complete what was promised.”
• Wastewater plant. Johnson wants to see the city to begin making a plan to incorporate the second module at the wastewater treatment plant.
“The city is growing and along with the increase of summer visitors it continues to put stress on our present plant,” he said. “Before we get to the point of, having to do right now which usually costs more monies, we should prepare and plan for the needed addition ahead of time instead of reacting to an emergency. The plant was designed for future expansion as the city's needs grew.”
When asked what  specific issues Householder would  like to address, he said, “currently the planning and zoning commission and the city council are starting to formulate a list of projects to work on over the next several years, it is really good to see the cooperation between these two groups working together to keep Hill City a great place to visit and live in.”
Johnson would specifically like to address the issue of unity.
“I would like to see a little more unity in our community. Hill City has never had the legal issues it has today,” he said. “Versed to referring every issue to the city attorney, we should try to resolve the issues between ourselves. Newcomers or old residents, we all live here. Part of the issue may be that 80 percent of our council is fairly new to the area. I believe there should be at least a couple council members who are aware of what has been tried, what has worked, and what hasn’t worked in Hill City, over the past several years.”
Householder believes people should vote for him because he has a voice of reason, a love of community, and desire of service.
“I would appreciate your vote. I have been actively involved in numerous organizations since moving here. I love this community and gladly help where I can. I volunteer when I can and enjoy our uniqueness of Hill City,” he said. “I would appreciate your prayers and support in the June 7 election.”
Johnson believes people should vote for him because he is a long-time resident of the community.
“I am well aware of the process of local government with my past experience and years on the city council. I am fiscally responsible,” he said. “I am and have been available to listen to you as a resident of the entire town, not just the ward I am running to represent. I have no personal agendas. I would bring logic and common sense governing to the position.
“The main thing is that you as a citizen, community member, resident of Hill City, and the state of South Dakota, get out and vote.  Let your voice be heard and participate. Take the time to get informed and then cast your vote, for all the city, county and state races. It’s never been more important.”
“Hill City is truly a fantastic community made up of some of the finest people you can imagine with one of the top school systems in South Dakota,” Householder said. “I want to continue to help this community to improve and grow and be a safe place to raise a family. I am proud to be a member of this community and I ask for your vote this June.”
“Thank you for taking the time to cast your vote. I am going into this position with the attitude that I am working for the residents of Hill City. I am not running a popularity contest, on the basis of where I dine, what bar I hang out at, what church I attend, or who I spend time with,” Johnson said. “As I have learned from the past, if you want to be effective, much more time is involved than showing up every other Monday evening at city hall for a city council meeting. I have proven to give the time this position needs and deserves.”

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