From infrastructure and property taxes to electronic billboards and hookah lounges, the public had a chance Monday night to ask both mayoral and city council candidates some tough questions regarding the needs of rapid city.
One of the hot topics was the question regarding the state of hookah lounges, businesses mayoral challenger Mark Kirkeby supports.
He blames the incumbent, Mayor Sam Kooiker, for attempting to close them down and take away jobs, and says small businesses are the backbone of a strong government.
"With the state of the economy, the offspring business that can happen in downtown Rapid City, whether you like it or not it's a legal business," said Kirkeby. "And I think it's unfortunate that someone's trying to put them out of work."
Kooiker did not directly respond to the remarks made by Kirkeby but says the hookah businesses are complying with recent regulations of not serving malt liqueur beverages.
In the conversation regarding infrastructure, Kooiker says the city will spend approximately $33 million toward street and utility repairs.
"There's a lot of chip seals that need to be done," said Kooiker. "There's a lot of overlay that needs to be done, and there's a lot of reconstruction that needs to be done."
Kirkeby is also very pleased with the implement of change in 2012 funds to be used toward infrastructure.
All four candidates present, incumbent Ward 5 Councilman Ron Sasso and his challenger Brad Estes were also present, agreed on the option regarding prayer before City Hall meetings, and that they think it is a constitutional right to do so.
Estes says nothing can be done about the issue now, and only time will tell if a lawsuit appears. He believes private individuals would put money up to defend it in the case of a lawsuit.