The city of Mitchell's top elected officials are no strangers to the community they serve.
With the recent election of City Council President Kevin McCardle and Vice President Dan Allen, the Mitchell natives join the mayor to form a trio of community leaders deeply embedded in the city.
“I’m looking forward to working with these two, and I think it will benefit the city of Mitchell to have people who are extremely familiar with the community making decisions for the betterment of the community,” Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said in an interview with The Daily Republic. "We've known each other for years, and it's fun to climb the ranks with them."
Although McCardle will be serving his first term as council president, he said his three years of experience as a council member representing Ward 2 have prepared him well for the new role. McCardle was elected the new council president and Allen named vice president during the July 1 meeting.
“I’ve learned a lot serving on the council, and I’ve been blessed to have a group of council members work together for the betterment of the town,” McCardle said. “We have good leaders, and that’s made a big difference.”
As a lifelong Mitchell native who was born, raised and educated at Mitchell High School and Dakota Wesleyan University, McCardle is steeped in pride for the community he’s never left.
McCardle credits his local ties for guiding his journey into public service as an elected city official, and said being well connected to the city has been a driving force for the continued support he receives from community members.
“I like that people aren’t afraid to call me and voice their concerns, no matter what they may be,” McCardle said. “They know we are listening. They elect us, and we represent them.”
While McCardle has seen Mitchell’s biggest tourist attraction gradually develop over the course of his life, he’s focused on further enhancing the Corn Palace experience. Making up one of the eight votes of approval for phase II of the Corn Palace Plaza at the recent July 1 council meeting, McCardle said he likes the direction the Corn Palace is headed.
“Continuing to do nice updates on the Corn Palace is important for the city to attract more tourists, and I feel we are moving in the right direction,” McCardle said.
One area of concern that’s on the forefront of McCardle’s priorities is addressing the methamphetamine problem he believes Mitchell has been experiencing.
“I’ve seen how big of a problem it is, and I don’t think many people know just how bad it really is,” McCardle said.
Allen, a 13-year City Council veteran and longtime agriculture product salesman, continues to bring a wealth of business knowledge to his role as vice president.
While Allen said he’s eager to work alongside Everson and McCardle as top elected officials, he is proud of how well the entire City Council operates together. He credits the diversity of the eight-person council as a strength for helping the community grow.
Allen emphasized the importance of carefully listening to community member concerns and suggestions, which he’s noticed is more valued under the leadership of Mayor Everson.
“Every person that comes to the City Council Chambers has an equally important concern, and I believe we have a great council and mayor who listen to all of the citizens,” Allen said. “Every mayor has a different leadership style, but we have a mayor who values us council members.”
Having been born and raised in Mitchell and later establishing himself in his professional career, Allen said it's helped him make wise decisions as a city official such as endorsing several Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts, which have helped develop key areas of the city.
Although he's a week into serving his second term as council vice president, Allen’s channeling his focus on items that have been major concerns for quite some time. Chief among those items is improving Main Street and Lake Mitchell, which Allen said is a common goal for the three top elected officials and council.
“We all have a common goal to make Mitchell a better place, and every single decision we make as the council is important,” Allen said. “We’re finally working upstream to help the lake’s water quality, but holding Main Street property owners accountable to maintain their buildings is just as important for the city and the future of Mitchell.”