Happy Monday night! Megan here.

Thought you were done with city elections? Au contraire mon frère. There's one City Council seat that remains undecided, and your vote tomorrow will help determine the next city government official.

But fear not, Tuesday's election is – say it with me – simple. And I'm sending you a survival guide ahead of time so you can study up tonight.

  • You've only got one bubble to fill on the ballot in choosing between two candidates for the At-Large City Council seat. Jordan Deffenbaugh and Richard Thomason.

Want to learn more about the candidates? Keep reading for a Q&A in which candidates discuss a variety of issues.

Already know who you're voting for? Godspeed. You can skip to the bottom of this email for some other common election questions.

Meet the candidates (listed in ballot order):

Jordan Deffenbaugh

  • At-large seat
  • Age: 35
  • Occupation: Partnership Developer with the BAM Institute and occasional cook at Bread & Circus

Why did you decide to run for City Council? Deffenbaugh said he's been building toward a council run with his work in the Whittier neighborhood and his years of research on topics like affordable housing systems.

"I am the most equipped to address deeply seated challenges in our community that have been brewing for decades," he said.

Richard Thomason

Richard Thomason
Richard Thomason
  • At-large seat
  • Age: 32
  • Occupation: Relationship Manager at Central Bank

Why did you decide to run for City Council? Thomason grew up in Sioux Falls and says he wants to ensure future generations have the same great experiences he did.

"(Sioux Falls) has a tradition of excellence in my opinion, and I want to make sure that tradition stays," he said.

Let's talk issues

The Q&A below was taken from in-person interviews with each candidate. Answers are lightly edited for length and clarity.

Sioux Falls has seen tremendous growth both from a population and economic development standpoint in recent years, if elected what are you watching when it comes to managing that growth?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: Deffenbaugh noted the importance of growth, but said it's also important to watch other metrics like the cost of rent and food.

  • "Do we lose sight of what is really important, which is our neighborhoods? ... This is where real leadership shows up to create conditions so people can take care of themselves."

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "Ensuring that our existing neighborhoods are still taken care of. The example that I like to use is if we're expanding – which we are everywhere – that the roads from here to there still need to be good and not just good out there (in new developments).

  • We need to make sure that buildings in existing neighborhoods are taken care of and well cared for as well. It's really just making sure we don't forget where we came from as we're expanding."

There are a lot of road projects going on in Sioux Falls – South Veterans Parkway, interstate interchange reconstruction, etc. What are you most concerned about when it comes to roads and those ongoing projects?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "(Roads) are liabilities, and if we don't look at them like liabilities, we're going to go bankrupt. ... If you want to pay less taxes, you've got to watch where we're spending money on roads."

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "The main arterial streets have to be your main focus. If there are potholes at 41st and Louise, we're going to fill that before residential. (It's about taking care of) the big fires first, and don't forget the little fires."

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

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."

How will you approach conversations about affordable housing, and what role do you see the council playing in that ongoing conversation?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "The City Council is in the business of condition creation. What they can do is create the conditions where the likelihood of success (for affordable housing projects) is higher."

  • Deffenbaugh also noted the "missing middle" of housing options like duplexes, triplexes, etc. that provide more affordable choices.
  • He said he'd also like to see changes to zoning ordinances that allow more flexibility to create more housing density.

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "Everyone needs a roof over their head."

  • Thomason said there's affordable housing on the outskirts of town, but he'd like to see more in the core. He also noted he'd like to see all kinds of housing – single family, multifamily, rehabilitation of existing buildings to create more housing – all while prioritizing what's most needed.

Let's talk public safety – How will you approach decisions about police, public safety and funding?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "The way I look at safety comes from my background in one, urbanism, and two, on-street engagement. I've worked a lot with people in the area who are houseless, or struggling, on the edge.

  • I want to invest dollars in where safety comes from. ... A street that has decent shade and coverage of trees, you will see less crime on that street. If you have a street that is safe for pedestrians, you will have less crime on that street.
  • I'll back the police department in a way that facilitates safety, in a way that's backed by research, but I'm not going to throw money at them to expect that's where safety is going to come from. Safety is going to come from smart design in our streetscape."

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "A common line that I say is communication and addressing things as they come up. I like to be proactive instead of reactive. ... it's ensuring that there's a constant line of communication on not only what the police department needs, but what the fire department needs, what EMTs need."

  • He said he'd also like to support law enforcement in any way, shape or form possible.

What do you think of the mayor's 2050 vision for the Riverline District? And, more immediately, should the city purchase that piece of land?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "There needs to be a dialogue. Come down here and talk to the neighbors who don't know anything about it. Go to their doorstep and tell them about it.

  • There is plenty of evidence to suggest, say, if you invest oodles of money right along a working-class neighborhood, a neighborhood where many of the residents are elderly or on fixed incomes – pouring money into an investment can cause massive reverberations throughout a neighborhood that are incredibly detrimental."
  • He also said he's not against the plan, and he would be in favor of purchasing the land if the city and councilors talk to constituents.

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "There is a need for more convention center space ... (I see) pros and cons to that location and want to make sure we're looking at all the options.

  • (Regarding the land purchase) I would like to get elected first and see the finer details. But from what I know right now, it's a good idea to purchase the land."

What's your philosophy when it comes to the city making quality of life investments, and how will you approach decisions about funding them?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "Bigger isn't always better. We need to be going towards more of a neighborhood-based, participatory budget."

  • Deffenbaugh said a neighborhood approach would increase public buy-in, and sometimes the things that really matter to people are adding a crosswalk.
  • He said he does support larger investments, but wants to make sure they're done with the public's participation.

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "You have to take each thing and look at it individually."

  • Thomason noted that the city might not make money on all of its quality of life investments, but the goal should be to get "the most bang for our buck" by serving as many people as possible.

Sioux Falls has a new public transit provider and changes on the way with on-demand busing — as that progresses, what does success look like in your opinion? 

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "(Success) is return on investment, and also talking to ridership actively."

  • Deffenbaugh also noted that he's ridden the bus, including the on-demand pilot program.
  • "I think that adding some on-demand elements might be helpful in different parts of the city. I do want to emphasize, though, sometimes if you keep it simple, that's where you will see success. Really what it comes down to is we need to look at rapid transit corridors in particular sections of our city – 12th, Minnesota, 41st, etc."

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "That's a question I'll be asking as well," he said, adding that his biggest priority is understanding how public transit is adapting to our growing city.

  • "I want it to be convenient and accessible to all."

Is there a topic I didn't ask you about that you wanted to share an opinion on? Or is there anything else you want voters to know ahead of Election Day?

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "Too often we optimize for cars but not for our children, and that will be to our detriment moving into the future. I love hearing this idea that we're doing things for our future, for our children, and I find myself just wondering, where? Where is that investment?

  • That means too, looking at how we can incrementally develop amenities at the scale of kids on streets (for example, traffic calming, crosswalks, etc.)."
  • Deffenbaugh also noted a desire to better engage the community in conversations about improving their neighborhoods, as well as a desire to see more indoor recreation space throughout the city – but not all concentrated in one area like the proposal to put it at the convention center.

Richard Thomason, At-Large: Thomason said he wants voters to know he plans to be as accessible as he can be if elected. He added:

  • "I want what's best for Sioux Falls, and I will thoroughly research everything that comes to me, listen to pros and cons and talk to all parties involved."

And here's your guide to some common election questions:

How do I know where to vote?

You have to vote at your designated polling place.

You can also use the city's interactive map to find your precinct, and this precinct map to identify your polling place.

What if I'm not registered to vote?

You're out of luck this time.

South Dakota doesn't allow same-day voting, and the registration deadline was March 25. BUT, if you're not registered to vote, it's still worth registering now so you know you're all set next time a big election rolls around – which won't be long. South Dakota's primary election is June 4, not to mention the presidential election in November.

What do I need to have with me in order to vote?

Nothing – but the process will go quicker for you if you have your ID.

If you don't have an ID, you can still vote. You'll just have to sign an affidavit saying that you're you.

Can I still vote absentee?

Nope. You'll have to go find your designated polling place today between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday.

What if I have to work?

Per South Dakota lawyour employer has to allow you paid time off work for up to two consecutive hours to go cast a ballot.

  • For what it's worth, you'll likely be able to get in and out of your precinct within a few minutes.

Have a question that's not answered here?

Reply to this email or text me at 605-545-4565, and I'll do my best to help you find the answer!