SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For 8 years, Steve Allender has been the Mayor of Rapid City. However, this July will be the end of his term.
Going from the Chief of Police to the Mayor of Rapid City, Steve Allender didn’t know what to expect taking on a new role.
“I was really surprised by it and I was waiting for the honeymoon period to be over because I felt like everyone was treating me exceptionally well for an elected official,” Allender said.
Allender says the real challenges arose in 2020 when the pandemic hit… dealing with weekly press conferences, daily COVID-19 updates and frustrated citizens. Allender says the pandemic brought up challenges no mayor expected to face.
“It has not been good for the community, it has not been good for neighborhoods, it’s not been good for the crime rate, for public servants. It has been very devastating, the effects of it are wide-reaching,” Allender said.
During Allender’s time as mayor, Rapid City has also seen a lot of growth. He says with that comes other challenges like rising crime and housing issues.
“But we are adapting, we are growing and Rapid City remains a good community,” Allender said.
From introducing OneHeart, to addressing housing needs in the community, and working to grow the Police Department, Allender has achieved a lot in his time as Mayor.
“I spent time either working with him as the Mayor or the Chief and I learned a lot from him over the years. I think he has always made decisions based upon what he believed was best for our community and I think that is something we should acknowledge,” Police Chief Don Hedrick said.
The Rapid City Chief of Police Don Hedrick says having a good working relationship with the mayor has benefited the entire community.
“We got to be able to communicate, especially when we have some sort of crisis that’s going on. I think we are really lucky here in our neck of the woods where we simply just pick up the phone and give each other a call or I am able to just talk to the fire chief or the sheriff and that doesn’t happen in a lot of other places so I am very thankful for that relationship we have here and I am going to do whatever I can to keep that going,” Chief Hedrick said.
Local businesses, like Prairie Edge, say Allender has left a positive impact on downtown Rapid City.
From the new Summit Arena to Main Street Square, Allender has been a part of a lot of construction projects in town that have helped local tourism.
“I just have nothing but good things to say about Mayor Allender. I think he has done a fantastic job and he’s been very good for the City of Rapid City, he has been really good with race relations which is a high priority for us here at Prairie Edge. But the business community has certainly benefited and the community of Rapid City,” Dan Tribbe, General Manager of Prairie Edge, said.
Allender says the decision to leave was not an easy one, but after 40 years in public service, he admits it was time.
“One of my favorite questions people ask me is. ‘Do we have term limits in Rapid City?’ And my answer is, no, because we don’t need them. Everyone here seems to have a good understanding of when their time is up. Either the elected official has a sense of that or the voters have a sense of it,” Allender said.
As far as the future goes for Mayor Allender, well he hasn’t planned that far ahead yet.
“I know me so I have not spent much time thinking about what comes after. I’ve got my mind trained on the next hundred days and I only have plans for July 4th. I don’t have plans for July 5th,” Allender said.
There will be a municipal election on June 6th. Five city council positions and the mayor are up for election. People running for mayor have until March 28th to hand in petition forms.