One of the first steps in civic engagement is knowing who’s governing you. Here’s a breakdown of the different governing bodies making decisions about everything from what kids are learning to which roads get fixed to where your tax money goes.
How is Sioux Falls' city government structured?
Sioux Falls has a strong mayor form of government. That means the mayor is essentially the CEO of the city, with the executive and administrative powers. The council — of which the mayor is also a part — has the legislative and policy-making powers.
History sidebar: Sioux Falls has only had the strong mayor form of government since 1995. Before that, the city was governed by commissioners (the number of commissioners varied throughout history, but most recently there were three commissioners elected at-large to lead the city.)
Who governs the city of Sioux Falls?
The mayor is Paul TenHaken, who was elected in 2018. That could change after an April 12 election. TenHaken’s seat is being challenged by immigration attorney Taneeza Islam and political activist David Zokaites.
The City Council is made up of eight people plus the mayor. Three city councilors are “at-large” members, and the other five each represent a specific segment of town.
Current City Council members include:
- Janet Brekke (At-large)
- Christine Erickson* (At-large)
- Alex Jensen (At-large)
- Rick Kiley* (Southeast district)
- Greg Neitzert (Northwest district)
- Marshall Selberg (Southwest district)
- Curt Soehl (Central district)
- Pat Starr (Northeast district)
*Notes councilors who will not be running for reelection because their term is up.
Four of those council seats will be open in April. Sioux Falls Simplified will have detailed candidate and election guides as we get closer to Election Day.
Who governs at the county level?
Sioux Falls spans both Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, each of which are governed by a board of five elected commissioners.
Lincoln County’s commissioners serve four year terms, and each commissioner represents a geographic district. Lincoln County’s commissioners include:
- Joel Arends, District 1
- James Jibben, District 2
- Tiffani Landeen, District 3
- Michael Poppens, District 4
- Jim Schmidt, District 5
Minnehaha County’s commissioners also serve four-year terms. Minnehaha County commissioners include:
- Jeff Barth
- Jean Bender
- Gerald Beninga
- Cindy Heiberger
- Dean Karsky
Who governs the schools?
A five-member board oversees the Sioux Falls School District — South Dakota’s largest public school district. Superintendent Jane Stavem is the district administrator, though she ultimately reports to the school board.
Board members are elected to alternating three year terms, and board elections are held yearly. Current members include:
- Cynthia Mickelson
- Kate Parker
- Carly Reiter
- Nan Baker
- Marc Murren
Who are the state lawmakers representing Sioux Falls?
Sioux Falls has 10 state legislative districts in the metro area. Each legislative district has a state senator and two state representatives.
Below is a list of the current legislators in the metro area, listed by district (political party listed in parentheses). To figure out which district you’re in, you can go to the state legislature website.
District 6 (south of 57th Street in Sioux Falls): Sen. Herman Otten (R), Rep. Ernie Otten (R), Rep. Aaron Aylward (R)
District 9 (northwest Sioux Falls, Hartford): Sen. Wayne Steinhauer (R), Rep. Bethany Soye (R), Rep. Rhonda Milstead (R)
District 10 (northeast of Sioux Falls): Sen. Maggie Sutton (R), Rep. Doug Barthel (R), Rep. Steven Haugaard (R)
District 11 (western Sioux Falls): Sen. Jim Stalzer (R), Rep. Chris Karr (R), Rep. Mark Willadsen (R)
District 12 (south of 18th Street, between Marion Road and Western Avenue): Sen. Blake Curd (R), Rep. Greg Jamison (R), Rep. Arch Beal (R)
District 13 (south of 18th Street, between Western Avenue and Cliff Avenue): Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R), Rep. Richard Thomason (R), Rep. Sue Peterson (R)
District 14 (eastern Sioux Falls between 10th and 57th Streets): Sen. Larry Zikmund (R), REp. Erin Healy (D), Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt (R)
District 15 (north-central Sioux Falls, including downtown) Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D), Rep. Jamie Smith (D), Rep. Linda Duba (D)
District 16 (south of Sioux Falls along the Iowa border) Sen. Jim Bolin (R), Rep. David Anderson (R), Rep. Kevin Jensen (R)
District 25 (north and northeast of Sioux Falls, including Dell Rapids, Garretson and Valley Springs) Sen. Marsha Symens (R), Rep. Jon Hansen (R), Rep. Tom Pischke (R)