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5 hopefuls in race to be Mitchell's next mayor

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5 hopefuls in race to be Mitchell's next mayor
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

The race for mayor of Mitchell is getting crowded.

Five candidates have picked up petitions to run for the office, which is being vacated by Mayor Lou Sebert after three terms.

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The latest potential candidates are former city councilman Jerry Toomey, Roger Haley and Tara Volesky. They join Councilman Ken Tracy and Davison County Commissioner John Claggett, who picked up petitions Thursday, the first day prospective candidates could start gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Toomey has discussed possibly running for mayor since last fall, when he led an effort to refer a council decision converting three one-way streets to two-way traffic. Toomey, who wants the streets to remain one-way, picked up his petitions Monday.

Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson said prospective candidates can pick up petitions through the filing deadline of Tuesday, March 27. They need at least 50 signatures from registered voters in the city to run for mayor.

Wilson said Mitchell elects a mayor on plurality. Whatever candidate gets the most votes will win, she said, even if no candidate gets a majority on June 5.

Volesky and Haley, who both picked up their petitions Friday, are newcomers to politics, at least as candidates. Both their spouses have served in elective office.

Volesky, 52, said she is a "fiscal conservative" who wants to work for local taxpayers.

She has lived in Mitchell for seven years and works as a mediator and substitute teacher.

Her husband, Ron, is a Huron lawyer who has served in the Legislature and been a candidate for statewide office several times. They have four children.

Volesky said the potential Corn Palace improvement project will be at the center of her campaign.

"The main issue is, I am against spending $35 million to $42 million for the expansion of the Corn Palace," she said. "I don't think the taxpayers are going to support it. I am tired of all the studies and the money that is being wasted."

Haley, 66, returned to Mitchell two years ago after 13 years in Lincoln, Neb.

He had lived in the area for more than 20 years before moving to Nebraska. He was a high school teacher and coach at Delmont before he was drafted into the Army in the late 1960s.

When Haley returned from the military, he started work as a financial planner and worked in that field for 37 years before he retired two years ago.

His wife, Marilyn Haley, served three terms representing Ward 1 on the council in the past.

Haley said in the past, he was too busy to get involved in city government, but that has changed.

"I figure it's time for me to give back to the community," Haley said.

"I am a positive person. I always look for the good in things," he said. "I have good common sense and I listen to all views before I make a judgment on how I'm standing."

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