'This is the first time, not the last' as Rapid City votes for incumbent mayor

Natalie Stites Means: 'We changed the conversation'

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender won his third term leading that city Tuesday. 

The Rapid City Journal reported that Allender, the former police chief, received 6,237 votes, or 75 percent of the vote, while Natalie Stites Means, Cheyenne River, the challenger, received 2,114 votes.

"I have a contract with the people of Rapid City for the four years to provide professional, ethical public service in their best interest. And that's something I take very seriously," Allender told The Journal. He also said that racial issues appeared to take precedent over questions of public policy.

Means told the Journal that the Native American vote in Rapid City was a sleeping giant, now awoke. She said the campaign mobilized the Native community and that earning a quarter of the vote was an accomplishment. She also expressed concerns that the county and city and published inaccurate polling places on Election Day.

Means tweeted: We learned a lot on this campaign but most importantly we changed the conversation. I have always said win or lose, we have won. Thank you for all your heart, passion, and energy put into this campaign. This is only the first time, it is not the last time.

Read more: Native women 'building bridges' in Rapid City election #SheRepresents

Other members running on a Native slate of candidates included: Cante Heart, Rosebud; Ramona Herrington, Oglala; Terra Houska, Oglala; and Stephanie Savoy, Crow Creek, for the ward representatives. As Nicole Willis wrote: "None of these candidates had run for office before. Yet all were seasoned advocates. “It is hard to come from the backgrounds that we represent and not reach adulthood as a seasoned and well-informed advocate,” Stites Means said.

Heart, Houska, Harrington, and Savoy were all defeated in their districts. All of the candidates earned about a quarter of the vote in a city that is 12 percent Native American.

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