Meet your election guide

Your one-stop resource for the April 12 city election

There's a lot of ground to cover here, starting with the why.

Why this election matters

  • There's potential to see a massive shift in city leadership, starting with the mayor. In addition to the mayoral race, there's also a chance to see up to four new faces on the eight-member Sioux Falls City Council.
  • These people oversee the City of Sioux Falls' more than $650 million budget – all of which is your tax dollars at work.
  • There are also two ballot measures – one of which lets voters decide whether the mayor and council members should receive a pay raise. More on those later on.
  • Municipal elections in Sioux Falls historically have a low voter turnout, meaning a small portion of the population (around 30% of registered voters in the last mayoral/city election in 2018) makes decisions that affect the entire city. You can change that by casting your vote April 12 (or earlier if you want to vote absentee. I'll tell you how.)


A little guide to the guide

This guide breaks down everything you'll find on the ballot.

But first, none of this matters for you if you're not registered to vote (by March 28, which is today).

If you need help checking your voter registration or getting registered, I've got you covered with my local resource guide here.

How was this guide compiled?

I sat down with all 13 people whose names are on the ballot and talked about a variety of issues.

  • Yes, if you're counting, that's about 13+ hours of coffee meetings. Want to support the work that went into this? Consider becoming a Sioux Falls Simplified member.

What info will I find?

You'll find basic who's who information on each candidate.

You'll also find candidate's views on a variety of important, pressing issues in Sioux Falls. The goal is for you to be able to scan for the topics that mean most to you and find the candidate that best fits with your personal philosophy, politics, vibe, whatever.

And, of course, I'll have information on how you can vote both on and ahead of Election Day. Because, again, none of this work I'm doing matters if you don't use it to cast a ballot.


Your guide to the mayoral candidates

Simplified: Mayor Paul TenHaken wants another four years as Sioux Falls' mayor, but immigration attorney Taneeza Islam and local activist David Zokaites are challenging his seat.

Meet the candidates

Get the run-down of who's running before diving into their views on various topics.

What mayoral candidates have to say about:


Your guide to the City Council candidates

Simplified: Ten people are vying for four open seats on the Sioux Falls City Council.

Meet the candidates

See who's running for the two at-large races, the central district race and the southeast district race.

  • A note: Everyone will see the two at-large races on the ballot, but only people who live in either the central or southeast districts will vote on those races.

What council candidates have to say about:


Your guide to ballot measures

Simplified: Voters will have the option to vote on two ballot measures – one related to the mayor's salary and another related to who has authority to remove the city attorney. In both cases, a 'yes' vote changes the city charter, and a 'no' vote means nothing changes.

Photo by Element5 Digital / Unsplash

Tell me more about the salary thing

For sure.

Right now, the mayor's salary is $137,800. City Council salaries are 15 percent of whatever the mayor makes, which means their current salary is $20,670. A 'no' vote keeps it this way.

A 'yes' vote on the ballot would change the mayor's salary to $165,000 and the council's salary to $24,750 (adjusted annually for inflation or deflation).

And what's the second ballot measure?

The second measure is related to who has authority to remove the city attorney.

Right now, the mayor can remove the city attorney with consent of a majority of council members. A 'no' vote keeps it this way.

A 'yes' vote maintains the mayor's ability to remove the city attorney with council consent, but it also provides City Council the option to do so on its own if six or more council members agree.


How to vote on Election Day (or sooner)

Simplified: Voters have 15 days to cast a ballot in the city election. Here's how.

Vote by mail

Fill out an Absentee Ballot Application and mail or submit in-person the form to your county auditor.

  • In Lincoln County, the address is 104 N. Main, Ste 110 Canton SD, 57013-1703
  • In Minnehaha County, the address is 415 N. Dakota Ave. Sioux Falls, SD 57104-2465

Vote early in-person

You can also vote in-person at the Minnehaha County Administration Building (415 N. Dakota Avenue, near the corner of Sixth Street and Minnesota Avenue.)

  • Bring your photo ID. If you don't have one, that's OK. You'll just have to sign a special form.

Vote on Election Day

On Election Day, you can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at your designated polling place.

Don't know where your polling place is? You can find it by typing in your voter information here. You'll also find a sample ballot, so you can even do a practice round of voting before the real deal.