Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender will not seek re-election in 2023

Allender, 61, says that he does not intend to pursue a third term as the mayor of South Dakota’s second largest city, following in the footsteps of many mayors who came before him.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. - After serving two terms as mayor of South Dakota’s second largest city, Steve Allender confirmed to KOTA Territory News that he does not plan to seek re-election in 2023.

“One of my favorite questions people ask me is whether or not we have term limits in Rapid City,” Allender said in an interview. “And I tell them, no, we don’t need them. There is a natural length to things, and people become resistant to the same old faces and the same old ideas.”

Allender, 61, began his career in public service in 1983, first working for the Belle Fourche Police Department. After two years, he moved to the Rapid City Police Department, where he served the community until 2014, eventually in the role of police chief. The following year, he was elected mayor.

During his time as mayor, Allender has developed a reputation for being hard-nosed and unafraid of sharing his thoughts, or of what the general public might think about those thoughts.

“I don’t compromise my values or beliefs in order to gain political favor. I pride myself in using straight talk, clear English that is without the need for interpretation.”

In the last several years, Rapid City has seen explosive growth. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city was the fastest growing metro-area in the Midwest from 2020 to 2021.

But the growth experienced in the seat of Pennington County has not come without its challenges. Rapid City has seen a spike in both its homeless population, and certain types of crime in the city.

But neither a lack of housing nor crime are the primary challenges Allender says the city will face after his current term has expired.

“The biggest challenge facing Rapid City right now is that we are still divided as a community to an extent that seems detrimental to me. It was evident with the start of the pandemic and with the end of President Trump’s era, and that is really concerning, even on days when it feels it has gotten better. This is a divided community and we are a divided nation, and that is going to be a concern for any mayor in any community.”

The solution to that, Allender says, is to “let the department directors do their jobs. (And) Let the city move forward on their shared values and goals.”

Despite his concerns for the future of the community, state, and nation, Allender says that he has no plans to pursue another political office in the future.

“I just see it as being at the end of its run. For me to try to run again, would require me to start promising people everything they want to hear, and playing the game of “politics” in order to secure my own position in the organization.”

The next election for the office will take place in June 2023. Allender’s term will end the following month.