Editor's note: This story is part of a series of stories leading up to the April 12 election. Follow the "2022 City Election" tag for more.
Simplified: Mayoral candidates Paul TenHaken, Taneeza Islam and David Zokaites discuss how they would approach the increase in crime as well as the increase in the need for addiction and mental health services.
Sioux Falls Simplified asked all three candidates the same question in these subject areas. Here are their answers. (Candidates are listed in ballot order.)
Let's talk crime, mental health
Question: As the city grows, crime is increasing. What’s also increasing is the need for mental health and addiction services. As mayor, what investments do you want to see the city make to ensure public safety and public health?
TenHaken noted the opening of The Link triage center downtown as a big step in addressing these challenges.
"That being said there’s still some huge huge gaps – one of those is mental health facilities both for youth mental health as well as adults," he said.
That's why the city gave money to help fund Avera's expansion to its behavioral health center, he added. He also said the city is going to need to deal with the "very hard-to-house" population of homeless people with severe mental health needs.
Islam described a recent ride-along with the Sioux Falls Police Department in which all of the calls the officer received were related to social services or mental health.
She wants to see an interdisciplinary team of public health workers – including mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors and social workers – who can work alongside police officers.
"We need more investment in long-term mental health and addiction resources," Islam said. "There are a lot of great short-term places like The Link, but now we need to get to the next step in what long-term care looks like."
Zokaites said the government does a "horrible job" of dealing with addiction by incarcerating people. He wants to see the city legalize marijuana and decriminalize as much as it can, instead investing in treatment, healing and support services.
"Treatment solves addiction a whole lot better than incarceration," he said.
He also noted a desire to redesign handcuffs and offer police better training so they don't injure people in the process of making an arrest.