1. Why do you want to be an alderman on the Vermillion City Council?
2. Identify what you believe are the three biggest challenges facing the city in the next
five years, and how you will address those challenges.
3. What makes you the best person for a seat on the Vermillion City Council?
Nick "Tick" Severson
Education/Occupation: University of South Dakota – BS, Vocal artist and owner of One Moon Entertainment
1. The most important reason that I want to be Vermillion's next mayor is because I feel as though I am the only candidate whom voters can trust. Based on the events of my campaign thus far, it is obvious that I admit to my mistakes and have nothing to hide. On the other hand, numerous Vermillion citizens have told me that they do not have faith in the current government's duty to be transparent. Electing my opponent would only further this culture of distrust. We cannot grow as a community if honesty does not have a seat in city hall.
2. Vermillion faces an array of challenges that I feel worthy of battling, but the biggest three that I envision over the next five years, include:
a. As a community and in cooperation with the Vermillion School District, we need to renovate the high school sports complex to accommodate evening varsity football games and other events. If not, we need to find the funding to continue using the dome, despite increasing rental fees. Vermillion has a proud tradition of not only academics, but also athletics. Our athletic pride must be maintained. As mayor, I would encourage not only young people, but citizens of all ages to take part in daily physical activity.
b. At times, it can seem as though Vermillion needs a boost of community-building. We are indeed a fragmented community, but at the same time, we are one. First off, I would fight for the citizens of original (lower) Vermillion, to finally have fair representation on the city council. For too long, the Northwest Ward has essentially been the Western ward. I would recommend that a board composed of citizens and city administration reconsider the ward distribution of the city. Under the current system, local government lacks equity. Besides making municipal government equitable to the citizens being served. My other plans for community-building include, increasing partnerships among the university and local populations via numerous ways imagined by those involved. I would also encourage a greater number of community events for families and individuals of all ages, specifically an annual festival celebrating the city's heritage. Promoting events and supporting civic groups are important to being a good mayor. Having numerous ideas for community-building, I hate to be brief, but I will note my final suggestion as being an improvement in relations among the Vermillion Police Department and the community. Part of the issue may be internal, as I have heard various rumors concerning low morale, but on the face of the problem, Vermillion's finest can take a heartier approach to creating a safe community for the benefit of all Vermillion residents.
c. Finally, I view Vermillion's economic development as being crucial to the survival of our beautiful community. Over the next five years, I view it as essential to lure green-collar jobs to Vermillion. If you are unfamiliar, green-collar jobs are tied to the renewable energy industry. Five years from now, I could envision a solar cell production plant employing 300 workers or more. We must look towards the future of business, not the past. Secondly, it is important to be supportive of small businesses. Local businesses are the backbone of a community, and we must provide all of the tools available to supporting their livelihoods, as possible. Keeping money in our community is important for our future. Thirdly, it has been hinted at, but the notion of maintaining a sustainable economy in Vermillion is highly important to me. I refuse to believe Hyperion will be bringing the sort of economic opportunities to Vermillion that have been envisioned. Despite the health consequences related to the debate, my knowledge of the company leads me to believe that they will never break ground. Vermillion needs to find economic solutions that can be sustained for decades to come.
3. I am the best person for the job because I am the only mayoral candidate willing to say, "this is who I am." I am not out to fool anyone or take advantage of my political position, if elected. My education and life in Vermillion has prepared me to lead my hometown in a better direction. I have wanted to be mayor for as long as I have distrusted city government (over a decade). The residents of Vermillion have lost faith in the city's leadership and it is time for someone new. I am a true gentleman respected by women and children of all ages. My character and enthusiasm are exactly what Vermillion needs to lead us all into the future. I am a man of efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. Most importantly, I am the only mayoral candidate with a plan for a prosperous Vermillion.
John (Jack) Powell
Family: Wife Lisa; Son Vern; Daughter Rhonda; five grandchildren. Son and daughter both graduates of Vermillion High School and USD.
Education/Occupation: Bachelor's degree: Morningside College; Master's degree: USD; Doctorate: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.
I retired three years ago after teaching at USD for 45 years.
If incumbent, years of experience: 10 years as alderman from the Northwest Ward; I am serving my third term as council president.
1. While serving as an alderman, I have sought to always be aware of the needs and desires of the public by listening and acting in what I believe are in the best long term interests of the entire community. Vermillion has made remarkable progress in recent years (city infrastructure, fiscal responsibility, utilities, parks, etc.) and if elected mayor, I would like to continue to be a part of making our community even better. I believe that Vermillion deserves a dedicated, knowledgeable, experienced and committed leader to work for and represent all our residents.
• We need to strive for a more diverse economy with better job opportunities. Economic development is crucial to our city's growth. We have the infrastructure in place to handle most opportunities, large and small, and, working with the VCDC, the Vermillion NOW! organization, Clay County, USD and other constituents, we can make it happen. I believe that the I29 corridor initiative also has the potential to help in this area. We must make our community inviting to future businesses and residents and instill community pride.
• We need more quality affordable housing and quality of life opportunities (library expansion, swimming pool upgrade, etc.) to attract people to our community. The city needs to, where possible, support developers, builders and new businesses, while at the same time, help our existing businesses grow and expand. We can do this through potential tax incentives and delaying infrastructure costs.
• We must strive to keep our public services reasonable and affordable and provide a clean and safe environment for all our citizens. We need to provide the amenities (good streets, recycling, recreational opportunities, etc.) that our residents want and need. We achieve these by being open to ideas, responsible fiscal planners, and good stewards of public resources.
3. I have been a resident of Vermillion for nearly 50 years. My experience and knowledge of the city and how it works give me a unique perspective. Relationships that I have with various local and regional partners, my extensive involvement in and dedication to our community, and my availability and accessibility all are reasons that I should be selected as Vermillion's next mayor.
Family: My wife Karen and I have been married 28 years, and we have two children. Our daughter Lindsey is a recent USD graduate and is presently attending graduate school in St. Louis. Our son Daniel just completed his first year at USD.
Education/Occupation: I am a graduate of the USD business and law schools, and also have a degree in taxation from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. I have been a USD business professor for the past 23 years, and also serve as Associate Dean of the Beacom School of Business. I previously worked as a certified public accountant in the tax department of a large accounting firm in their Des Moines office.
1. In 2003 I was elected to serve as an alderman for the Northwest Ward, but did not seek reelection after my term expired in 2005 because of family commitments. While serving on the Council was certainly challenging given the number and variety of issues that arose, it was also extremely gratifying to play a part in planning for the future of our community, which I have now called home for 30 years. While we face new challenges, if elected I will strive to help keep Vermillion headed in the right direction.
2. The biggest challenge for Vermillion continues to be in the area of economic development. While we have had some success in bringing new employers such as Masaba Mining Equipment to the community, we must continue to be proactive in our attempt to attract new businesses. The city can play a part in this effort by offering incentive packages such as short-term tax breaks. At the same time, we must do what we can to assist our local businesses and encourage entrepreneurs to locate here. The Council's recent passage of the Farmer's Market exemption to the city's itinerant merchant ordinance is to be commended. Having a vibrant, diverse business climate will create full-time and part-time jobs, encourage workers and families to settle here and expand our tax base.
Second, as we know, Union County commissioners and voters approved a zoning change that would allow an oil refinery to be built there as long as the company complies with state environmental regulations and obtains a number of air, water and waste disposal permits. While the refinery may never be built, Vermillion and Clay County need to plan now for its possible construction in order to take advantage of any potential resultant economic opportunities, as well as to minimize any possible negative effects on our community and the quality of life we now enjoy. I would support the creation of a broad-based task force (similar to that formed to plan for the new City Hall) consisting of representatives from the county, city planning commission, Vermillion Chamber and Development Corporation and local businesses, the university and schools, law enforcement, medical services and the general public to proactively address all matters including joint jurisdictional zoning issues and the increased demand on various city-provided and other services that would arise with any project of this magnitude.
Third, despite a recent increase in monthly sales tax collections, the economy remains stagnant. The city must be fiscally conservative and control spending in order to minimize the financial burden on residents.
3. I believe my educational background, work experience and prior council service will help me do what is in the best interests of the citizens of the Northwest Ward and Vermillion if I am elected. I have worked with budgets, finances and multiple legal/regulatory issues which will enable me to perform the duties required of an alderman. I believe I have demonstrated an ability to be objective and listen to all parties involved before making a decision. Vermillion is our home, and I would do my best to fairly represent the interests of all my neighbors.
Family: Married to Anne Wilson for 45 years. Three daughters, Heather, Meaghan and Gwyneth all of whom graduated from Vermillion High School during our original residence in Vermillion from 1979 to 1996. After retiring in 2006 we relocated back to Vermillion.
Education/Occupation: Retired after a 30 year career working in historic preservation for the state of South Dakota, state of West Virginia and the city of Deadwood and in the private sector as a preservation, community planning and economic development consultant. Post graduate degrees and education in both architecture and political science.
1. The City of Vermillion offers a quality life style that combines the virtues of a small town with those of a major university and proximity to the attractions of larger urban areas. Having lived all over the country and choosing to retire to Vermillion out of all of the available options I would like to serve on the City Council in order to maintain and enhance those things which make Vermillion a good place to live. I have the time, energy and experience to make a positive contribution to life in Vermillion based on input from everyone who lives here.
• There is a need to insure that rational, reasonable economic development occurs based on the assets that Vermillion possesses, adequate labor force, good transportation location, university resources. Economic development and job growth that maintains the quality of life is essential. There is also a need to continue the recent rejuvenation of downtown to insure there is vital economic activity in all areas of town.
• Vermillion is not exempt from the energy crisis. There are opportunities available to insure that Vermillion can become more environmentally aware and opportunities to capitalize on the state and national interest in energy conservation and energy production.
• Over the 30 years that we have lived in Vermillion one of the encouraging developments has been the alteration of the relationship between the University of South Dakota and the city of Vermillion. There is a need to insure that this relationship is a partnership that benefits both entities.
3. I certainly do not think I am the best person but I do believe that I can make a positive contribution to city government by listening to my constituents and using my accumulated experience and knowledge. I have worked for governmental entities and have worked in the private sector in locations all over the country. We chose to return to retire in Vermillion because it is a good place to live and I would like to work to make it better.