BROOKINGS – Three candidates spoke to the public about why they wanted to become the permanent city clerk for Brookings at a meet-and-greet Thursday at the Brookings Public Library.
The three are Jean Capel, Bonnie Foster and Craig McCuin.
City Clerk Shari Thornes officially retired Jan. 28. She was city clerk for 19 years and worked with the city for a total of 34 years. Foster was appointed acting city clerk in late January.
The Brookings City Council will discuss the three candidates in an executive session during the council meeting Tuesday.
“If the council comes to an agreement, we will make a public announcement,” Mayor Keith Corbett said.
Jean Capel is a concierge and resident care associate in Richmond, Virginia, and has one daughter in college.
She majored in business administration at St. Paul’s College in Virginia and has continued taking classes.
She was the city clerk in Emporia, Virginia, for about three years and became interested in the Richmond City Council. When the deputy city clerk position came up, Capel was hired for that in 2010. About three years later, the city clerk position became available and she was appointed as city clerk, calling it a “good experience.”
Capel learned to appreciate the “watchdogs” in Richmond because they’d keep her informed and she “developed a very good rapport with them.”
She visited Elkton a few years ago and likes South Dakota, especially since it has smaller towns, like the one where she was born. She’s enjoying her visit to Brookings.
“It is very beautiful here, very beautiful and the people are very friendly,” Capel said. “I am so impressed with how clean this city is. They do a fantastic job.”
Capel strongly believes in transparency.
“I’m a big advocate for keeping citizens involved or aware so they can be involved in decisions that are coming up before the council,” Capel said. “Just building trust among the citizens. That’s big. Having citizens feel like they can trust you in everything that comes before the council.”
She thinks organization is key to being a city clerk.
“Since you’re creating and maintaining historical records, things that happen within the city, making sure that piece is taken care of, so history is preserved,” Capel said.
Bonnie Foster is the acting city clerk for the city of Brookings.
She and her husband Joel have been married 23 years and run a diversified farming operation. They have three daughters, Lynn, Paige and Gayle.
Foster is originally from Hartford and came to Brookings to attend South Dakota State University, where she majored in human development and child family studies with a minor in sociology. She did some graduate work at SDSU, too.
Foster worked at SDSU for 10 years, in the animal science department, the Extension Service and the state 4-H.
Foster has worked with the city of Brookings for 15 years.
“Almost all of that time has been with the city clerk’s office, with a short stint as office manager in the Park, Rec and Forestry Department,” Foster said.
Her enthusiasm for the city clerk position comes through.
“I love the job. I love the work. It’s very rewarding when you’re helping someone either dig through the archives, or you’re trying to solve a problem and look for a solution or you’re trying to make a process more efficient,” Foster said.
“At the end of the day, any time that you can help a citizen with an answer (to) their question, it’s just so remarkably rewarding,” she added.
Being “passionate” about what she does is important to her.
“I can contribute my institutional knowledge of 15 years of service to the city of Brookings, where it’s come from, the plans that city leaders and elected officials have in moving the city forward,” Foster said.
Craig McCuin is the Title 9/equal opportunity investigator at SDSU, and his wife is Debi.
McCuin is originally from Rutland, Vermont. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in business administration and earned a master’s degree in business administration from St. Mary’s College in San Antonio, Texas.
He’s also taken “various other leadership and training programs throughout my career,” he added.
That career included the military.
“I was in the Air Force for almost 24 years, active duty,” McCuin said. He retired in 2017.
He is interested in the “challenge” he sees in the city clerk’s position “and being able to serve the community here in the town,” McCuin said.
“I was used to serving my country in the Air Force, and I now want to serve the local community in that capacity, so that’s a big reason, but also to be able to build a community and see it grow in a positive direction,” he added.
McCuin feels he has a lot in his background to contribute as the city clerk, including “teamwork, policy and oversight of various responsibilities … whether it’s record-keeping, assisting the city manager, assisting the city council,” he said.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]