Doescher walks into council seatWith no opposition, newcomer claims position in Ward 2.
By: Marcus Traxler, The Daily Republic
Randy Doescher’s campaign for Mitchell City Council never got off the ground.
Actually, it never needed to.
He filed months ago to run for a seat in Ward 2, and the incumbent, Travis Carpenter, did not seek reelection. That means Doescher will waltz onto the council, starting his three-year term in July. His name was not on the ballot Tuesday because of his unopposed status.
Doescher, 60, has lived in Mitchell for 32 years. He graduated from high school in Winner and also graduated from Mitchell Technical Institute. After working in the restaurant industry, he settled in Mitchell, teaching at MTI for 29 years in the culinary program.
He retired three years ago, but it didn’t last long. Doescher took over the South Dakota division of SkillsUSA, a group he had long been involved with through his position at MTI. The group is a national nonprofit organization that helps high school and college students get started in trade, technical and skilled service careers.
Doescher said there wasn’t a main issue that inspired him to run for office, but he’s always had an interest in local government.
He got his chance to see the system at work in late 2010 and early 2011 when he opposed the beer license for Arnie’s First and Foster, which is near his house. The process enlightened Doescher as to how the city works and now, being semiretired, he has the time to dedicate to the job.
“I think [the city] came to a good resolution on where it’s at now, and I wanted to work through the process,” Doescher said of the beer license, which was ultimately granted to the business.
“I feel like I have good idea of what Mitchell is all about, and I hope to make it better.”
Doescher said running unopposed removed all of the excitement from making a first run for office.
“I wanted to win, but I wanted the people to decide, and I like to have the people make choices,” he said. “Sure, I won, but it would have been nice to have my name on the ballot and get to talk to people more.”
His ideas for Mitchell include a focus on Main Street, as well as the Corn Palace. Doescher said he doesn’t want to burden the city with a large expense to upgrade the Palace.
“I have to look and see what we can get for the money. Once they brought it down to $5 million, I thought that was a little bit more like it. I think putting some interactive exhibits in the Corn Palace would make it more interesting instead of just really walking around the outside.”
“We have a very clean Main Street, but it’s smaller than what Rapid City had to work with,” Doescher said, referring to downtown revitalization efforts there.
He would like to see the city do something similar to what Brookings has done with its downtown, because Mitchell has a similar community and business base. One of Brookings’ primary downtown projects was a large-scale streetscape to make the downtown area more attractive.
Despite being handed a seat at the City Council table, Doescher has been talking to his constituents in Ward 2 — roughly the southeast quadrant of the city — about what they want him to accomplish.
In addition to affordable housing, cost of living has jumped to the forefront of his conversations.
“If you walk through Ward 2, that’s one of the main issues,” he said. “It’s an area where both heads of the household are working and they’re struggling to make a living. When you start talking about spending millions of dollars in other areas, [the citizens] can’t figure it out when they can’t make ends meet themselves.”
To drive revenue, Doescher wants to continue encouraging tourism to Mitchell and make the city a friendlier place to visit. He said one of the ways to accomplish that goal is improving the visitor information center and directing more visitors downtown.
“People jump off the interstate and we have a lot of visitors who never make it past Havens. We need to get them downtown, and we need to provide them with something more to do,” he said.
Doescher said he’s honored to serve the people of Mitchell.
“I don’t go to shoot for glory. If I have an opinion, you’ll know it; otherwise, I like to sit and listen. I’ll help anybody,” he said.