Mayoral candidate Jordan Hanson hopes to bring problem-solving leadership, more activities to Mitchell

May 28—EDITOR'S NOTE — This is the second story in three profiles on Mitchell's mayoral candidates to be published prior to the June 4 city election.

MITCHELL — Jordan Hanson sees "so much potential" for Mitchell, and he's aiming to help the city reach its full potential from the mayor's office.

The young mayoral candidate said the key to help the city is providing more activities, recruiting business prospects and creating a friendlier environment for all residents. Hanson is convinced that more family friendly activities, recreation opportunities and active business recruitment will spur the type of growth Mitchell has been longing for over the past decade.

"If you look at the Corn Palace schedule for June, there are no family friendly activities inside for the entire month. A lot of people focus on housing and jobs, but they are missing the critical point of what there is to do outside of work," Hanson said, pointing to young residents who have moved due to a lack of activities. "I would pick up the phone and call 100 restaurants within 100 miles of us, and the chances are one would like to come to Mitchell. We need active recruitment to convince people to come here."

While Hanson has spent a considerable amount of time on the Lake Mitchell restoration topic and took part in debates about the proposed lake dredging project, he said the lake is "one of many issues" facing the city.

If elected, Hanson plans to take a different approach on tackling major challenges. Hanson said city leaders over the past two decades have spent their time focusing too heavily on Lake Mitchell's water quality issues, housing and revitalizing downtown, which he believes hasn't been an effective strategy.

"There are 100 problems, and those are the four we focus on. We neglect the other 96. It's been 18 years since I graduated high school, and focusing on those four things has brought us absolutely nothing," Hanson said, pointing to Mitchell's slow growth compared to other large like-size cities in South Dakota.

To tackle the major issues facing Mitchell, Hanson said problem-solving skills and good attitudes among city officials are keys to success. Being proactive and not reactive to problems is another leadership trait Hanson hopes to bring to the mayor's office.

"If our city officials are going to say there is a problem, they also need to offer some type of solution. Most of the times I have tried to get things done with the city, I have always been told the reasons why it won't work," Hanson said. "We need to find problems and create solutions. Nobody wins when you wait for something to go wrong and then react."

Although Hanson has yet to serve as an elected official in local government, he's confident that his diverse business background equipped him with the necessary skills to be an effective mayor and leader.

Hanson is a real estate developer. He renovates and redevelops housing units, including apartment buildings and residential homes. The properties Hanson renovates are usually in rough shape, which he said requires a lot of "problem-solving" skills.

Prior to venturing into the real estate realm, Hanson spent a few years as a local car salesman at Vern Eide. He credited his sales background paired with real estate experience for providing him with great leadership skills.

"If I didn't do well, I did not get paid. It taught me that sales do not come to you. You have to actively go out and search for opportunities and close a deal," Hanson said. "I think we are lacking someone who can close deals. I know businesses that have tried to come to town, and the deal falls through for not a good reason. I've closed thousands of deals in multiple industries such as real estate and cars."

Hanson hasn't been shy about his opposition to the proposed $25 million lake dredging project that's also on the June 4 ballot. He is concerned about the impact mechanical dredging could have on the lake's ecosystem and the effectiveness of the project.

While Hanson would like to see an improved Lake Mitchell, he's convinced a "cheaper, more effective" plan exists.

After making a trip to Michigan to learn more about lake aeration from a lake restoration company, Hanson was sold that aeration and bio dredging would produce better results for Lake Mitchell than the proposed mechanical dredging plan that will require a drawdown of the water for equipment to remove soft sediment.

"I think we can fix the lake cheaper without all of the risks that come with the dredging plan," he said.

Despite being opposed to the dredging project, Hanson emphasized that he will honor the outcome of the lake loan vote on June 4.

"At this point, whatever the vote goes is what we will do. A vote yes is we do the project as planned whether I agree with it or not. If it's a no, I have more experience than most about how to get the end goal of what we want for Lake Mitchell. If it fails, there are multiple other options we can do with a lot of savings," Hanson said.

Downtown Mitchell has been another area city leaders have been focusing on, and Hanson is optimistic about the trajectory of Main Street. He said downtown Mitchell needs to keep its charm and originality and not copy other Main Streets in larger South Dakota cities.

"We have more younger business owners doing great things downtown. Mitchell Main Street and Beyond is also doing amazing things for downtown like adding art and doing First Fridays on Main events," Hanson said. "I don't like the bump outs. I think it's just copying what some other towns have done. We need to keep our downtown unique and have its own identity."

Hanson has a laundry list of ideas and activities he would like to bring to Mitchell.

This year, Hanson helped revive Arts in the Park — a popular event that went dormant for 17 years. With the excitement surrounding the return of Arts in the Park in July, Hanson said it shows there is a void in activities. And he believes there are no reasons why the community can't offer more events like it.

"I want to have so many activities that we have things to do here every single day," Hanson said. "All it takes is good communication and problem-solving to get a fun event or activity organized."

Among the events he's envisioned are ATV races on a frozen Lake Mitchell, frequent game shows hosted inside the Corn Palace, creating obstacle courses in areas throughout the city and potentially reviving the Polka Fest.

"It would be awesome to have an ATV race on Lake Mitchell in the winter by making a race track on ice with a plow. I want to do something called the Corn Olympics that has fun activities and funny stuff to do with corn," Hanson said. "I've done motivation seminars in the past, and I also want to host more of those as well."

Utilizing the Corn Palace throughout the year is another goal Hanson has outlined to improve Mitchell's quality of life. He said the city-owned facility is being underutilized.

"The Corn Palace is the tax-paying citizens' facility, and it needs to offer more things for all citizens to enjoy," he said of the city's biggest event venue and tourist attraction.