After several long months of information sharing, presenting, advocating and campaigning, the day has come and the outcome of the new arena vote is here. 17,000 citizens voted and approved the new arena by a 64% to 36% margin.
There have been literally hundreds of volunteers giving their time, talents and money to promote the new arena. VoteYesRapidCity started as a campaign slogan, but morphed into a movement. An idea. Perhaps a way of thinking about the future of Rapid City.
VoteYesRapidCity is, in fact a campaign committee that will file its final report with the state and officially dissolve. But we, as stakeholders of Rapid City should keep the momentum moving. We owe it to ourselves and future generations.
It is always more comforting to stick to the past and go through life with as few changes as possible. No one likes change…no one over 25 anyway. We have to acknowledge we are all aging and the current community leadership should not only have today’s needs in mind, but should have also a strategy for tomorrow. Humans are short-term beings with daily needs taking priority in our lives. Long-term thinking is not natural and not everyone is cut out for it.
Last night’s victory was not about an arena. It was about progress. The voters spoke loudly and clearly: they want change. They want us to be known as the community that thinks ahead and doesn’t seek to stay in the past.
Something I have been taught, something that has been modeled for me and something I hope to pass on to others is this: Attitude is everything!
Rapid City could use a different attitude. We need younger people on the school board, in the legislature, on the county commission, on the city council and yes, in the mayor’s office. We need people from all walks of life, of all ages to take Rapid City by the reins and ride it into the future!! This cannot be done by relying on retired folks or career politicians. We need you to be a community leader!
The requirements to be a community leader are fairly basic:
- Own Rapid City. I mean really own it. As if it were yours – because it is. Make it better, every day. It may only be smiling at someone, or it may be changing someone’s tire. It could be helping to recruit volunteers, or helping with a campaign or perhaps running for office. There’s a reason small business owners invest so much of themselves into the business: because they own it and its success or failure is a result of their efforts, skills, investments and their attitude.
- Show up. It is essential you make yourself available. Today, America is a nation of opinions. We take the time to share them on social media and take time to chastise others for theirs, but what good is it if we avoid the real responsibility of taking a stand and offering ourselves to the service of others. Being involved with your own blood, sweat and tears is hard when the cost/benefit ratio suggests you’re an idiot. Don’t over-think it. Show up. Serve.
- Set the standard. Nearly 100% of America is made up of people in communities like ours. If we focus on that fact and focus on raising the bar in our communities… we raise the bar in our nation. We can set community standards for who we are, how we communicate and how we feel about important issues. We need healthy differences of opinion in order to achieve the best plans. We must be future-focused. We must realize we are, like it or not, going to hand this nation over to people who are at this moment children. Our eyes should be open to the concept that communities produce candidates for local, county, state and national offices The power starts with the local community. The foundation of effective governance is local people, raised in an environment of service and strength.
Today, you have a right to be proud of yourselves. But come tomorrow – get back to work. There are new ideas, not yet developed. New plans, not yet made. And new people, not yet engaged.
Thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly to make the new arena a reality. The progress made would not have been accomplished without you. Thank you to the thousands of voters who participated in the process. And finally, a special thank you to my wife Shirley for enduring the last year of late nights, work on weekends, sometimes countless hours of answering question and concerns on social media or the phone. I would not be who I am or where I am without you.