Questions for the Candidates

Belle Fourche News Elections

Mayor Randy Schmidt, and Randy Sowers, contender for the mayoral position in the April 9th election appeared side by side in a public forum in Belle Fourche Thursday evening.  Also present were the candidates for what will be the new Belle Fourche City Council team. Karen Davis, Rhonda Schild, both candidates for Ward 1, Pam Somervold, and Tommy Donahue competing for Ward 2, Don Elliott uncontended for Ward 3, and Tricia Fowler, for Ward 4, also uncontended.

The event, held at Venue 519, drew several interested voters, although not standing room only crowds.

The audience prepared questions that were given to a moderator. The moderator asked the same questions to each candidate. Each was given one minute to respond. Responses were timed and each candidate was notified when time was up. Candidates were also given time for opening and closing comments.

The candidates’ responses were insightful, honest, and heartfelt.

Both candidates for mayor, Randy Schmidt and Randy Sowers expressed detailed knowledge of the workings of city government. Mayor Schmidt explained how fiscal conservancy is necessary. Getting things done often takes time because of limited budgets. There may be disagreement in city government, but it’s important to have those conversations, but that it’s important to move forward, Mayor Schmidt described his desire to continue as mayor, “I love being mayor, and I love Belle Fourche.”

Mr. Sowers explained how his previous experience in business and his experience in the city council have prepared him for the office. He explained that he would like to see Belle Fourche lead other communities in the region who are experiencing similar growth.  Both Mayor Schmidt and Mr. Sowers appreciate the changing dynamics that Belle Fourche may face during the next three years as the town grows.

Ward 1 candidates Karen Davis and Rhonda Schild presented as firmly committed to Belle Fourche, both businesses and residents. Each spoke passionately and fervently about helping others and each offered examples of her passion to make Belle Fourche a great place to live.  Karen Davis has lived her life in Belle Fourche. “I want to be available to advocate for others.”  Rhonda Schild expressed her appreciation for Belle Fourche. “There are incredible people in this town.” She noted that she is not a politician by nature. “I am direct and to the point.” Both Karen and Rhonda have professional experience with helping people in crisis. Karen as an EMT, Rhonda as a member of the volunteer fire department.

Ward 2 Candidate Tommy Donovan identified himself as the youngest candidate who could offer a youthful, very conservative voice. Although new to the community, he expressed thoughtful ideas, respect for the community, the city council, and a genuine interest in helping the town move forward.  Tommy works as an administrator at Black Hills State University. He appreciates the conservative nature of Belle Fourche.

Pam Somervold is also a candidate for Ward 2. Pam revealed a sense of humor when she thanked Tommy, her opponent for referring to her as “seasoned” rather than “old”. The comment added some levity to the conversation and extracted some laughter from the crowd.  “I can make a difference. I am a ‘git ‘er done girl’”. she told the audience. Pam has a professional track record of getting things. Born and raised in Belle Fourche, she described a wonderful childhood and her appreciation of Belle Fourche and the residents.

Running uncontested in Ward 3 is Don Elliott. Don revealed considerable knowledge of road construction which came up as many candidates commented on the need to improve streets. He also emphasized his plan to exercise fiscal conservation with the taxpayers’ dollars. Don noted that he looks forward to working with the council.

Also running uncontested in Ward 4 is Tricia Fowler. Tricia who has served on the council since October described her desire to help improve the quality of life in Belle Fourche, practice transparency and communicate with the council team. She was quick to describe her three great strengths for the office, “backbone, commitment, and loyalty”.

All city council candidates expressed a willingness to learn, work hard, practice transparency, work as a team with the council and the community. Although those who have not served before may have much to learn, each was enthusiastic and eager to participate in an opportunity to serve the Belle Fourche  community.