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Everson says he has experience, temperament for mayor

EDITOR'S NOTE: Four candidates will compete to become Mitchell's next mayor, replacing Mayor Jerry Toomey, who is retiring. The winner of the June 5 vote will serve a three-year term. The four candidates, in alphabetical order, are Bob Everson, S...

Mayoral candidate Bob Everson speaks during a city election candidate forum hosted by the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this month at Mitchell Technical Institute. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Mayoral candidate Bob Everson speaks during a city election candidate forum hosted by the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this month at Mitchell Technical Institute. (Matt Gade / Republic)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Four candidates will compete to become Mitchell's next mayor, replacing Mayor Jerry Toomey, who is retiring. The winner of the June 5 vote will serve a three-year term. The four candidates, in alphabetical order, are Bob Everson, Steven Larson, Mel Olson and Tara Volesky. Candidate profiles will appear over four consecutive days, beginning with Everson.

Bio: Bob Everson, 59, grew up in Mitchell and graduated from Mitchell High School. He served in the Army for four years before receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from South Dakota State University. He worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sheridan, Wyo., before returning to Mitchell, where a mechanical engineer was retiring from the firm that his father helped establish.

Everson served twice on the Mitchell School Board for a total of six years. He spent 13 years on the city Parks and Rec Board. He was appointed to the Mitchell Planning Commission in 1997 and continues to serve there.

Everson is married, has three grown children and three granddaughters.

Lake: It's the biggest issue facing the city. Everson noted that he would have used a different process to select a lake consultant. That would have put to rest the concerns people have about Fyra Engineering, he said.

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A plan to dredge the lake is still in the early stages, Everson said.

He has spoken with officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and with other engineers about the proposal.

The project costs are still being determined.

"The city as a whole needs to be involved in how that takes place," Everson said, adding that involvement may include a public vote.

The DENR has been working with farmers in the watershed for 20-25 years, he said. The city must continue supporting efforts to improve the quality of the water entering the lake; there is no easy fix.

"It's the toughest thing to do but is an important part of the picture," he said.

Main Street: Every city needs a downtown, and Mitchell's needs to be rejuvenated. Improvements would benefit the city by creating a nice-looking community, he said.

A nice downtown can bring people to Mitchell and retain the people living here.

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Current efforts to improve the downtown could really help, Everson said.

Politics: Everson would like the city to develop a better procurement policy so that it always knows what it is purchasing.

The current confusion around what the city purchased from Fyra provides an example of what he would hope to improve. He would like to know how Fyra got hired and what the city is getting in return for its money.

"I'm not saying it's Fyra's fault," he said.

Everson said he also was surprised when the city's ice rink turned out to be something other than a year-round center. At the time he left the park board, he was of the understanding it would have ice 12 months of the year.

Everson doesn't expect his position in an engineering firm to create any contractual conflicts with the city.

"We don't do much work for the city of Mitchell," he said.

He does believe, however, that other Mitchell businesses should have some degree of preference when it comes to bidding projects.

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"The ice arena was designed by a firm from out of town," he said. "We have architects in Mitchell capable of doing this work. It ought to be looked at."

Why is he running for mayor?

"I love Mitchell. I have three sons who graduated from high school here. It's a great place to raise a family."

He does have a familiarity with the issues, he said.

"I feel I could be a good mayor for the city of Mitchell and benefit the city of Mitchell."

Leadership: Everson said he has the time, experience, education and management style to be a good mayor.

He described himself as a people person who is not easily angered, a listener and a leader.

"I'm not a micromanager," he said. "I don't like micromanagement."

It's important to hire good people to do their job, report back and keep things functioning smoothly, Everson said.

As a former project manager with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Everson said he understands budgeting. As an engineer, he has worked on large projects, including the mechanical and electrical systems for the business school at the University of South Dakota.

"I'm an engineer," he said. "There's not a lot of gray. There's a lot of black and white. If it isn't black and white, there needs to be more research."

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