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Adam: A salesman with ideas for Mitchell's future

Rube Adam admits to losing some of his intensity with age, but he still has ideas and a salesman's knack for presenting them.

His latest sales pitch is designed to put himself in the mayor's office, which has been occupied for eight years by incumbent candidate Alice Claggett. Adam will challenge Claggett and Lou Sebert in the April 11 city election.

"Eight years, I think, is long enough for a mayor to serve," Adam said. "She's done a good job. There's still a lot to build on, but I think it's time for new ideas, new objectives."

Adam, 68, delivers his campaign rhetoric in direct language that contrasts with his laid-back personal style. He appears to be chronically easygoing, yet he has been the most aggressive campaigner so far in the three-way race.

Adam was the first to run newspaper advertisements, and he made an unusual move Monday by issuing a press release and letter to the mayor regarding a proposal for the city's vacant Carnegie Library building.

His plan is to establish an amateur artist and sculptor studio in the building. In lieu of rent or space charges, those artists would pay the city a percentage of their sales. He also hopes no final decision is made on the building until after new leadership is seated.

He has the race's only discernible slogan, "M.A.P. Mitchell's future," based on the acronym for "manage, analyze, prepare." He plans more releases to notify the public of numerous ideas and inititiatives he would propose as mayor.

Adam's organized campaign strategy is a reflection of his business career. His main vocation for nearly five decades has been insurance sales, and he has sold investments and managed "side ventures" including a convenience store, storage units and rental properties. He now considers himself semi-retired.

Adam was born in North Dakota. His father, a grain buyer, moved the family around before settling in Tripp, where Adam graduated high school.

As a child, Adam suffered complications from pleurisy that rendered his left lung almost useless. Today the lung is 5 to 10 percent of normal size, he said, but his right lung has compensated by growing to 120 percent of normal size. The condition kept Adam from participating in some indoor sports but otherwise has not severely limited him.

After high school, Adam tried college but lasted only three days. He worked as a meatcutter and part-time cookware salesman, and his foray into part-time sales yielded more money than his full-time job. He was soon recruited into insurance sales.

"I felt sales was the only thing that would reward me for my abilities," Adam said, "because the other thing would be to own a business, and I didn't have the resources to buy a business."

Adam's first full-time insurance job was with a company in Sioux Falls. He moved to Mitchell during the 1960s and has been here ever since, except for a two-year stint as a sales manager in Nebraska.

He started his own local insurance agency in 1970. Today the business is known as Adam Financial.

Sales experiences have shaped Adam's personality. He was trained, he said, to cultivate a positive self image, pursue worthy goals and communicate effectively. He also learned to persist through tough times.

"Sales are tough on people - they really are," he said. "I don't care if it's insurance or investments. It puts a lot of demand on the salesperson."

His success has allowed him and his wife, Pat, to rent a condominium in Florida and travel the world. In recent years, the couple has toured the southeast United States, China and Australia.

When in Mitchell, Adam spends time at the office and the golf course. He has three children from a previous marriage, and he is helping one of them start a business in an office adjacent to his. He and his wife have a combined total of nine grandchildren.

Adam is an experienced local politician, having earned single terms on the City Council in 1973 and 1985. The latter term was cut short by a state law that, as interpreted by the attorney general, forbade liquor-license owners from serving on the council.

At the time, Adam had a liquor license for a convenience store that he owned. Rather than put up a legal fight, Adam resigned his council position and later helped convince the Legislature to change the law.

Outside of his professional career and politics, Adam has been a member of local organizations including the Kiwanis Club and the First Lutheran Church.

Over the years, a combination of age and success has transformed Adam from a goal-chasing salesman to a more contented man and aspiring public servant.

"Probably more so the last 10 years, maybe, I've gotten pretty laid back," he said. "I'm not as intense as I used to be. I enjoy life."