Simplified: Mayor Paul TenHaken gave his fourth State of the City speech Wednesday. After a year of record growth, he focused on people who've moved here, the values that shape the city and what happens next.
Why it matters
- Wednesday's address also marked the fourth year in which TenHaken strayed from his predecessors by holding the speech in a different location than Carnegie Town Hall. This year's event was at the Convention Center – a move criticized by Councilor Pat Starr, who called it a "campaign-style event" and declined to attend.
- The 30-minute speech covered a variety of topics from growth to infrastructure to youth to public safety. Ahead of the speech – and in part as a move to buy time so the speech started in accordance with legal public meeting notice requirements – TenHaken's Mayor's Youth Council held a panel discussion for about 20 minutes talking about why the teens are excited for the city's future.
- TenHaken also shared an updated version of his One Sioux Falls framework, which has replaced the previous "engaging people" segment with "Kids & Families" and added a focus on sustainable growth.
"I have never been more hopeful or bullish about the future of Sioux Falls," TenHaken said.
So, what was in the speech?
It was organized around value-driven words like "strategic," "visionary," "caring for kids and families" and "laser-focused on the future."
Within those categories, TenHaken shared several points, including:
- Acknowledging the record growth the city saw in 2021
- Noting major road projects, including the diverging diamond intersection at 41st Street and Interstate 29, plans to rework parts of Minnesota Avenue and the widening of Six Mile Road and Arrowhead Parkway,
- Sharing updated renderings of the third phase of the River Greenway (which will be near the new Steel District),
- Teasing soon-to-come updates on the planned Jacobsen Plaza ice ribbon downtown,
- Noting growth in investments in the police department, including the addition of 129 officers added since 2018 for a total of 284 officer positions currently,
- And touting projects like The Link and Veterans Community Project as unique solutions to community problems.
TenHaken also announced plans to propose making public transit free for all kids to ride.
What wasn't in the speech?
TenHaken gave no mention of the upcoming election.
He also did not dedicate any part of the address to discussing the citywide sustainability plan currently up for public review. (More on what's in that plan here.)
Tell me more about the event itself
The event was held in a ballroom at the Convention Center with a light breakfast served.
About 200 people were in attendance, including many members of city staff, City Council and several individuals TenHaken highlighted as examples of the people moving to town.
The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request from Sioux Falls Simplified asking what the event cost, where the funds came from and how this year's event costs compared to the cost of previous State of the City addresses.
- This story will be updated if/when more information is released.