Eleven years experience in city government has taught in-coming mayor Gene Cox not all is black and white when it comes to running a municipality.
Cox, who has represented Ward III on the Mobridge City Council for those 11 years, said he has enjoyed the experience and is ready to take over the mayor post from out-going mayor Jamie Dietterle.
Cox said he has learned that making promises to residents like never increasing costs or fees is not logical as the increase in operational costs must be paid for in order to keep the services provided by the city.
“Small towns all face the same kind of problems,” said Cox. “I have learned that holding a hard line against raising costs is not always the best way to do things.”
He said the city must keep up with the times.
“We can’t provide services our citizens deserve if we can’t pay for them,” Cox said. “Costs for providing those services have all gone up and we have to keep up with that.”
The Mobridge City Council, during the 11 years that Cox has been serving, has led the city through many changes and major projects.
From renovations to the wastewater plant (clarifier project), to building a new water tower near city hall and refurbishing the north tower, Cox has had a hand in these changes.
While he sat on the council many projects that benefit the citizens of the community have been completed. Those included the completion of the Main Street railroad crossing, a new swimming pool, the new addition to A.H. Brown Library, the 10th Avenue West and 12th Street project and the ongoing runway extension project at Mobridge Regional Airport.
“We started the airport project when I first got on the council,” Cox said. “Now we are just getting the plans for it.”
As mayor, Cox knows there are problems that cannot be solved by the city alone, such as the housing issues, but he stresses the importance of keeping momentum moving forward.
“Cities are not geared up for developing property. We don’t have the flexibility,” he said. “But we can’t wait for someone else to solve our problems. We have to do it right here.”
He said city government must continue to prepare for the future as well as deal with current operations and problems. Cox said Mobridge is in a situation where it is dependent on the Ag community. When commodity and cattle prices are up, the city does well as tax dollars are circulated and small businesses in town benefit.
Cox said he also knows that there are other influences on the city’s financial health, such as the strength of tourism. Having these influences in a positive situation at the same time would be optimum for the city, but that does not often happen.
He pointed out that the need to have good infrastructure in the city is important. It is one of his main goals as mayor to update and maintain the city’s streets, water and sewer and the airport.
“Sometimes we forget that it is a big world out there and we need our connection to it,” Cox
said. “We need our airport to help the business community to thrive. We need to keep on working to keep on working.”
Cox said he is not making any big promises. He said those in city government must do the best job they can to take care of today without mortgaging the future.
“In order for us to be successful, we must take care of what we have,” he said. “These are not glamorous things but we have to be realistic about what we have to do.”
Cox and his family moved to Mobridge in 2003. He works for the State of South Daktoa as a meat inspector.
His wife, Lori, works as the customer service manager at Bridge City Publishing. They have three daughters, Lexi, Sarah, and Becca.
– Katie Zerr –