Wickware-Klein learning a lot as mayor

By Jeff Smith

Julie Wickware-Klein who was elected mayor of Hill City in June of 2017.

Julie Wickware-Klein is just about to finish her seventh month as the mayor of Hill City. She said overall it has been a good experience but there has been a big learning curve. She has never held a position in public office before.

“The constituents have been wonderful and very supportive. I’m very thankful for that,” Wickware-Klein said.

Many hours have been spent learning about the personnel of the city and what their responsibilities are. A recent area of the city that she learned about was public works as she spent time with public works director Dennis Schrier to see what his department is working on.

There has been lots of information to get familiar with and Wickware-Klein has seen what the jobs are like in the city so that she might help them with what they do. As she learned, city administrator Brett McMacken has a lot of different responsibilities.

She is a liason for two organizations, the Hill City Area Chamber of commerce board and Hill City Arts Council. She tries go to their meetings.

“Sometimes I have to meet with them outside of their regular meeting time to see what is going on,” Wickware-Klein said.

She was elected as mayor last year in order to fill out the remainder of David Gray’s term. The mayor position is going to be on the ballot again this year for a full term.

Wickware-Klein has not decided if she wants to be  in another mayoral race. Her husband and her will decide if another run would be happening. She said there is a lot of stuff that is going on with family.

“My mom might be moving here in the spring and my son is active in sports,” Wickware-Klein said.

Even if she decides not to run again she plans to stay very involved in the city.

The two big things that have happened during her tenure in office is the adoption of the comprehensive plan and the formation of the Business Improvement District Board.

They will guide more discussion on what is needed in the city. According to Wickware-Klein, many good steps will happen going forward through the BID Board and the comprehensive plan. 

Carla Sheldon was also hired as the finance officer in 2017.

“We have been learning together all the responsibilities with the finances,” Wickware-Klein said.

She is looking forward to the housing study and knows that a lot of people want to know if housing  is a problem. Affordable housing might be a big issue to tackle.

According to the comprehensive plan, the median home value was $159,500 and the median gross rent was $752 in 2014. Both of them are significantly higher than the South Dakota state average.

Wickware-Klein has also been trying to go to different events within the city. It has been hard lately but much time has been spent with the city employees.

On the weekends she might see what issues are going on and see if there is anything that needs to be addressed.

“Everyone at the city is good about talking to me about what issues have been going on,” Wickware-Klein said.

She said she has been very lucky to live in Hill City. After living in various places growing up she has settled on Hill City. She plans to stay living here into her retirement.