SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Former city council member and educator Kermit Staggers has passed away.
Staggers served on the Sioux Falls city council until 2016, until he vacated the at-large seat due to ongoing health issues.
Several Sioux Falls City Councilors commented on the work of Staggers, including Councilor Rick Kiley. "Kermit Staggers faithfully served his constituents and supporters for 20 years in his various positions with state and local governments. I respect him for never wavering from his convictions and for the professional and respectful way in which he always conducted himself," said Kiley. "I will keep Councilor Staggers and his wife and children in my thoughts and prayers."
Councilor Pat Starr reflects on the contribution to the city by Staggers. "Dr. Staggers was a gentleman politician. Agree or disagree with him he always treated citizens with a smile and a handshake. We need more people like him," said Starr.
Councilor Theresa Stehly was elected to the at-large position vacated by Staggers. The two were friends and joint ventures on city projects for years. "Kermit was a true champion for the people, always respectful, responsive and caring," said Stehly. "He exemplified what all elected officials should strive for in protecting the public from governmental overreach and serving the common good."
During an interview shortly after a diagnosis in 2015, Staggers explained his health struggle. "In my particular case, there was one medical issue that really just kind of was a curveball to me." That curveball is Shingles. But not your typical Shingles....which creates a painful rash on your skin, the result of exposure to Chicken Pox." He continued to explain how the virus had attacked him internally, affecting the nerves in his body.
Despite the physical challenges, the man continued to champion for those living paycheck to paycheck. "An average family of four would save over $300 a year just by not having to pay the sales tax on food."
He fought against tax increases proposed by then-governor Bill Janklow when he was a Senator in Pierre 20 years ago and stuck to those same guns as a city councilman and says he wears it as a badge of honor when people say he's stingy when it comes to any plan that puts more money in the government's pockets. "This money that governments acquire in taxation it's not their money. They're taking money from other people."
Staggers was the Co-Chair in 2016 of the Stop the Funding Campaign, a citizen petition effort to gather signatures in hopes to have the City of Sioux Falls place the funding of the planned $22,000,000 city administrative building to a public vote before sales tax revenue bonds are sold. That effort ultimately did not move forward.
For more than 30 years he was a professor at the University of Sioux Falls.
Staggers entered hospice approximately a week ago. Funeral arrangements are pending.