Editor's note: These stories are the next installment in a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find all the coverage that's been done so far right here.

Simplified: Sioux Falls Simplified sat down with each of the eight candidates hoping to have a seat on the City Council. Candidates were all asked (approximately) the same set of questions. Here's what they had to say about the ongoing childcare crisis.

Why it matters

  • It costs more in one year to send your kid to a childcare center in Sioux Falls than it would to send them to a South Dakota state university.
  • City Councilors earlier this year began talking about ways the city can help, and it's possible if not likely that newly elected councilors would be the ones to ultimately decide on some of these possible solutions.

Another quick note: Candidates are listed in the order in which they're shared on the city election website. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

What role – if any – do you believe the City Council should play in addressing Sioux Falls' ongoing childcare crisis?

Jennifer Sigette, Northwest District*: "I wish I had an answer for you. This is all so near and dear to my heart. My kids are 17 now, but I remember very clearly what it was like 15 years ago when I had three kids under the age of 4.

  • My previous job before I was with the Lions, I worked for a child advocacy group and our main concern was childcare. ... I helped start the daycare at my church 20 years ago."
  • Sigette said she wishes she had a better solution, but she's not sure if that solution falls to the city. She added that she'd like to see the state play a bigger role in those solutions.

Miranda Basye, Northeast District:: "It's a big situation, and I don't think there's any silver bullet. ... I'd love to chat wiht a few friends at the state level to dig in deeper.

  • As a City Council, I would foresee having this collective, think-tank conversation."
  • Basye also said she'd be supportive of the city creating a childcare coordinator position, as well as the council playing the role of facilitating conversations between all the groups who could help.

Neil Jeske, Northeast District: "The role of the city council should be to provide a level playing field, clear expectations, laws or regulations, and besides that there shouldn't be much.

  • I think if we would like to address the problem immediately we should talk about considering property tax cuts or freezes – anything we can do to get out of the way of these mom & pops and small businesses (to expand)."

David Zokaites, Northeast District: "This is a problem where everybody's gonna say we should do this that and the other thing ... but a lot of times its not going to count for anything because the problems are too fundamental to actually tackle."

  • Zokaites said he could see the council having meetings and coming up with a report, but ultimately it's likely too
  • "Is the city going to subsidize childcare to the tune of enough money to make a difference? Probably not. Does the city have an extra $50 million or $100 million lying around to make childcare affordable? The problems are kind of beyond the scope of what anybody could reasonably expect the government of Sioux Falls to tackle."

Ryan Spellerberg, Southwest District*: "I think that's a national crisis, and I don't think the city has a great fix for it. After talking to Mayor Paul TenHaken, he said if the city actually went to five of the biggest employers in town and just asked, 'would you be willing to help with this?' the answer of four out of five of them is, no.

  • There's different things the city can do to encourage (more in-home daycares) without having to subsidize it."

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "I think the council can be a great arbiter."

  • Deffenbaugh said he'd have concerns about the city subsidizing childcare, but he does see a societal benefit when parents have access to that resource.
  • He also suggested the city could play the role of "creative collaborators" to help form partnerships that make sense – especially with area employers.

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "I don't know, with not being a parent, I don't have kids on a waitlist.

  • I believe the city is doing a good job of saying we've got to figure out if we can do something and at least talking about it. If the council has a role to play, I don't know that answer yet."

Allison Renville, At-Large: "I think it's a far stretch ... but under the idea of municipal sovereignty, I think there's a lot of things the city could be doing – decriminalizing things and creating different requirements to be more inclusive to people and looking at what is the state willing to pay for, what are the feds willing to pay for. And then picking up where we can and supporting where we can.

  • Renville suggested perhaps repurposing some of the empty space in the City Center building to be used for childcare or looking at other creative solutions like that.
  • "If we can step away from the idea that we have to only rely on the state, we're not only exercising that municipal sovereignty, but we are acting in our own right."

*Sigette and Spellerberg will not be listed on the ballot because their races are uncontested. Since they'll be representing essentially half the city, Sioux Falls Simplified still included them here so voters know their public officials.

Want to learn more about the candidates?

See who they are and why they're running here:

Meet the people who want to represent you on the Sioux Falls City Council
Four of the eight Sioux Falls City Council seats will have new faces after the April 9 election. Here’s an easy look at who’s running to represent you.

And then get their thoughts on roads:

What City Council candidates have to say about roads
There are about 900 miles of roads within the city, and that number grows by about 10-15 miles each year.

And then see what they have to say about the Riverline District:

What candidates have to say about the 2050 vision for the Riverline District
Mayor Paul TenHaken last month laid out a 2050 vision for the Riverline District that includes a new downtown convention center.

And then keep checking back for more topics in the coming weeks leading up to the April 9 election.