Two Seeking Newell Mayor

Elections Newell News

NEWELL-Two candidates have thrown their hats into the Mayoral Race, incumbent Mayor Ken Wetz and Tara Tennis. The two will attend the Candidate Forum at Newell City Hall April 2. There will be a social from 5:30 to 6 p.m. with the Mayoral candidates and Newell School Board candidates with formal Q & A following.

Mayor Ken Wetz and his wife, Donna, have lived in Newell since 1978. They have raised six children in the area and are now grandparents to 14 and great grandparents to three. Wetz notes that half of their grandchildren have graduated from Newell School system.

Wetz has been in the Newell-Vale area for most of his life, having graduated from Vale High School and then BH State. He taught at Newell High School for nine years before making a change in his career to work for Butte Electric Cooperative. He began as Member Services Manager and then spent 23 years as General Manager. During his career, he was president of the Rushmore Electric Cooperative Managers Association, president of the SD Managers Association, president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Management Issues Committee representing North and South Dakota and Minnesota. He has also severed on two other national committees representing the Electric Cooperatives of South Dakota.

Then in 1996 he was elected to the South Dakota State House of Representatives where he served two terms on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation Committee. For the past 23 years, Wetz has been a lobbyist for the Rural Electric Cooperatives representing all the Cooperatives in South Dakota.

Wetz has been active in many organizations, including the Lions Club. He has served as President of the Newell Lions Club three times, District Governor for the western two-thirds of South Dakota, and as the Council Chair of the Council of Governors for North Dakota, South Dakota, and Saskatchewan. He has spent six years training incoming District Lions Governors.

He is also active in the Butte County Historical Society serving as President several times and has helped plan and execute over 353 of the group’s 51 annual tours. In the past, Wetz has been active in the Newell Community Club, 4-H as a leader, been part of the Vale Township board, Newell City Commission, and has been elected three times as mayor.

“I have devoted most of my life trying to make our community a better place to live, work, and play,” he said.

Tara Tennis is a familiar face at the Belle Fourche Irrigation Office. She was born in Sturgis and raised in Newell until 1989. She attended college in Lafayette, LA for business management and accounting.

As a resident of Newell, she is committed to the town. Her dedication is evident in the fact that she owns her own home and is in the process of finalizing the purchase of an additional house.

“This is a clear testament to my unwavering commitment to the growth and prosperity of community,” she said.

Tennis’ professional journey has been diverse. From her early days at 212/79 Servicenter to working with Elton Prouty (where she says she honed her carpentry skills) to her current role at the Belle Fourche Irrigation District. She has served landowners, written grants, assisted with budgets, elections, audits, and project reports.

She is always ready to lend a hand and volunteer her time. In 2023, the state of South Dakota honored her with an Acts of Excellence Award and has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, where she named the community of Newell as the recipient of this prestigious recognition.

“I am proud to be a resident of Newell. I would be honored to help the community thrive not only for my child, but also for all residents,” she said.

The Newell City Election will be held April 9, 7 am to 7 pm in the Newell City Hall.