Heard in the Hall

Mar 14

Schedule set for candidate forum

Sioux Falls mayor and city council candidates will take the spotlight next week with two candidate forums hosted by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The order of events has been set for the forum Wednesday evening, March 19. The chamber is pairing with the League of Women Voters for a forum at Carnegie Town Hall. Here’s the agenda:

 1. Opening Remarks

2. Introductions

3. Mayoral Candidates       5:30-6:30 p.m.

 A.Greg Jamison

 B. Mike Huether

15 Minute Break

4. City Council Candidates

 A. At-Large Council Member “A”  6:45-7:45 p.m.

Rex Rolfing

Emmett Reistroffer

Manny Steele

B. At-Large Council Member “B”  6:45-7:45 p.m.

 Christine M. Erickson

 Denny Pierson

15 Minute Break

C. Central District Council Members     8-9 p.m.

Rebecca Dunn

 Michelle Erpenbach

D. Southeast District Council Members     8-9 p.m.

Rick Kiley

Bonita Schwan (not participating in the forum)

5. Closing Remarks

Schwan said she is not able to attend the forums Wednesday or Thursday because she will be out of town. Her son is graduating from basic training in Fort Benning, Ga.

"I absolutely wanted to be there at the chamber events," she said. 

Both she and her opponent, Kiley, will be on The Argus Leader’s 100 Eyes Thursday, March 27 at 3 p.m. 

Each candidate will make a one-minute opening statement, have one minute to respond to questions submitted by the audience through a moderator. Closing remarks are also limited to one minute for each candidate. 

A second chamber-sponsored forum is set for Thursday, March 20. The Good Morning Sioux Falls breakfast is open from 6:30-8:30 a.m. with the program starting at 7 a.m.

Mar 12

Veterans group supports outdoor pool

You might have seen billboards on 41st Street and East 10th telling you to “Get Rescued.” It’s not the latest Christian mission.

The message comes from a group of veterans who are in support of building a new outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park, across from the VA Medical Center.

Veterans for the VA registered as a political action committee back in July 2013 as debate heated up about the pool at Spellerberg. Another group had petitioned last spring to put the matter to a vote.

The pool has since become one of the most contentious issues on the April 8 ballot. The veterans group is separate from Citizens Saving Spellerberg, which is also seeking a yes vote.

Chairman Thomas Muenster, is a veteran who has used the hospital for 13 years.

“The Veterans for the VA is encouraging people to vote yes for the outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park,” he said.

The group members will explain more about their position at a town hall meeting planned for March 25 at 7 p.m. A location will be announced.

Veterans for a VA has a website: www.siouxfallsfacts.com and a Twitter handle: SiouxFallsFacts.

Do you have questions for our candidates?

There’s less than four weeks to go before the municipal election when Sioux Falls voters will elect a mayor and four councilors, along with deciding on ballot measures that range from pools and snow gates to zoning issues. 

The Argus Leader is getting ready to interview each of the candidates and those behind the ballot measures. We want to know what you want to know. 

Are you concerned with where the candidates stand on property rights? Are you wondering if they plan to build in indoor pool? Will they be conservative budgeters in this time of steady cash flow? Do you just want to know their natural hair color?

Send your thoughts my way. Email me at jatyeo@argusleader.com or give me a call at 331-2423. 

The Argus election coverage will run in weeks leading up to the April 8 election. There are other opportunities to get to know your candidates. Here’s a list of coming candidate forums sponsored by the chamber: 

The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is organizing several opportunities for the public to be better informed about the April 8 municipal and school board election.

In conjunction with the League of Women Voters, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber will hold a municipal candidate forum 5:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at Carnegie Town Hall, 235 W. 10th St. Mayoral candidates will speak from 5:30-6:30 p.m., at large council candidates for positions A and B from 6:45-7:45 p.m., and central and southeast district council candidates from 8- 9 p.m.

Each candidate will have one minute to make an opening statement, one minute to respond to various questions submitted from the audience through a moderator and one minute to make concluding remarks. Call-in and email questions from the viewing audience will also be accepted.

CityLink will broadcast the event live and on several other dates.

Candidates for at large council member A are: Emmett Reistroffer, Rex Rolfing and Manny Steele; at large council member B: Christine M. Erickson and Denny Pierson; central district: Rebecca Dunn and Michelle Erpenbach; and southeast district: Rick Kiley and Bonita Schwan.

The chamber is facilitating the Good Morning Sioux Falls breakfast Thursday, March 20 at the Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel. The breakfast buffet opens at 6:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 7 a.m. and ending by approximately 8:30 a.m.

KSOO radio personality Rick Knobe will emcee and moderate. The program includes introductions of the candidates running for Sioux Falls School Board and Sioux Falls City Council, an update on the ballot issues and a question/answer interview with Sioux Falls mayoral candidates Mike Huether and Greg Jamison.

The cost is $20 for Chamber members or $40 for non-Chamber members. RSVP to Pat Lund at plund@siouxfalls.com or by calling 373-2014

And a few more from other sponsors, including The Argus:

Thursday, March 27: Family Heritage Alliance luncheon, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Calvary Assembly of God, 2101 E. 57th St. RSVP at www.familyheritagealliance.org or 718-5433. 

Monday, March 31: Mayoral debate hosted by Argus Leader Media and KSFY at 6:30 p.m. on KSFY, argusleader.com and ksfy.com

Mar 04

It’s luck of the draw for ballot order


Names of city candidates were drawn at random to determine which order they will appear on the April 8 ballot.

Here’s what the luck of the draw turned out:


Greg Jamison

Mike Huether

And for council positions:

At large A

Rex Rolfing

Emmett Reistroffer

Manny Steele

At large B

Christine Erickson

Denny Pierson

Central District

Rebecca Dunn

Michelle Erpenbach

Southeast District

Rick Kiley

Bonita Schwan

Connie Ideker, left, looks on as City Clerk Lorie Hogstad reads the names of a mayoral candidate.  

City Clerk Lorie Hogstad and assistant Connie Ideker drew the names from plastic containers Tuesday morning. Schwan was the only candidate on hand to watch. She was the first to turn in her nominating petition last month to officially get on the ballot.

“First one here, last one drawn,” she said when her name came up second in her district race.

Does it matter who’s listed first? Research has shown that undecided voters tend to latch on to the first name they read. 

Hogstad will draft a sample ballot to be reviewed by the city attorney and county auditor. The city will print 115,000 ballots.

Along with mayor and council candidates, voters will be deciding on three amendments to the city charter and four ballot measures. The ballot measures will be listed in the order that they were filed: snow gates, Spellerberg pool, Shape Places and Walmart re-zoning.

The wording for each of the ballot measures will be available on the city website by 4 p.m. today. 

Mar 03

Doesn’t anyone care about snow gates?

Another new committee looking to sway voters in the April election registered with the Sioux Falls city clerk today. This one is asking for a “no” vote on the Shape Places zoning ordinance.

That leaves only the snow gate issue without a group telling voters which check to make on election day.

“We at this time feel confident the public is aware of the issue, and with the mayor’s assistance, they will be well educated,” said Theresa Stehly, who organized Citizens for Snow Gates and petitioned to put the matter on the ballot. She said her group is not planning to spend any money campaigning for the ballot issue and therefore won’t need to register with the clerk.

The newest committee, Save Your Voice, is backed by members of the same group that’s trying to stop a new Walmart from being built in south Sioux Falls.

Save Our Neighborhood petitioned last spring to put the new zoning ordinance to a vote. Members felt it took away the public’s voice on matters such as zoning decision for the new store.

Spokeswoman Dana Palmer said much of Shape Places will be a benefit to Sioux Falls, but some issues need to be corrected. One is rezoning areas without proper notice to landowners, she said. Another is the limited use of the conditional use permit, which usually requires a public hearing, she added.

Palmer said a no vote wouldn’t bring the city back to 1983 when it comes to development regulations as some have claimed. The city ordinance has been updated continuously since it was adopted 30 years ago, she said.

Save Your Voice has its own website here.

The group campaigning in support of Shape Places is known as Forward Zoning. They have a website here.

Information put out by the city on all ballot issues is available here. The first public educational meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. at the MariCar Community Center, 400 N. Valley View Road. 

Feb 27

Mayor Huether officially on the ballot

Mayor Mike Huether turned in his nominating petition today, taking that official step to get on the April 8 ballot.

He submitted a petition with 527 signatures, he said in a news release Thursday afternoon. Mayoral candidates need 200 valid signatures of registered voters in Sioux Falls. City Clerk Lorie Hogstad said Huether’s petition met that requirement. 

Huether’s challenger, councilor Greg Jamison hasn’t yet submitted his petition. 

The deadline for mayor and council candidates to get those to the city clerk is tomorrow at 5 p.m.  

Three petitions for city council seats have come in this week, and Hogstad has verified their signatures. She said she’s waiting to hear from at least eight more potential candidates. 

Council candidates who have submitted petitions so far are:

Some council candidates have taken other steps toward running for office, but haven’t yet submitted their nominating petitions:


Feb 25

More groups campaign for city ballot issues

Two new ballot committees have formed in hopes to see through a set of issues they petitioned to put on the April 8 ballot.

One group that filed with the Sioux Falls City Clerk today changed its name slightly. You might remember Save Our Neighborhood from its opposition to a south side Walmart. Now they’re trying to save your neighborhood, too. The issue affects more than just those across the street from the proposed supercenter at 85th and Minnesota, says the group’s spokeswoman Dana Palmer.

Ballot committees must register with the city and file financial statements if they’re spending money to advocate for or against a certain measure.

Earlier this month, Walmart dropped $250,000 into a campaign supporting a ballot measure that would rezone the land for the south side store. Palmer has said her group can’t compete with that, but she’s hoping people won’t be swayed by the Building a Better Sioux Falls campaign that Walmart is funding.

“If the city allows Walmart to buy zoning to allow it to build a commercial development next to this residential area, it makes every neighborhood in the city susceptible to the whim of developers,” she said in a news release Tuesday. (See the full statement below.)

Citizens Saving Spellerberg is another ballot question committee that registered Monday. Save Spellerberg petitioned to vote on building a new outdoor pool at the neighborhood park.

They’ve got their own competition. It may not be funded at the Walmart level, but Community Swim 365 started a campaign last month to push for a no vote on the Spellerberg Pool issue. Instead of an outdoor pool, Community Swim members want the city to build an indoor aquatics center at Spellerberg Park. The group had raised $10,000 at the time it filed its first financial statement about a month ago.

Forward Zoning joined the crowd last week, hoping to convince people to support the Shape Places zoning ordinance. That leaves only snow gates without a group to tell you how to vote. 

The city will make its own attempt to explain the four measures on the spring ballot. Officials will announce dates later this week for a series of educational meetings. 

Here’s the news release from Save Your Neighborhood:

A new ballot question committee, Save Your Neighborhood, registered with the City Clerk today.  The Save Our Neighborhood group submitted the registration under a slightly different name, Save Your Neighborhood, to reflect the fact that the issues it faces and have addressed, affect neighborhoods throughout the City.  Save Your Neighborhood’s aim is to educate the public on the FACTS surrounding the rezoning of the land at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue. 

While Save Your Neighborhood lacks the financial resources of Walmart, it encourages the citizens of Sioux Falls to look past the vast funds that Walmart is expending to influence the voters’ decisions.  The group encourages citizens to discover the FACTS regarding the rezoning of this area, including the impact that rezoning of this area will have on the residential area next to it and the impact that the City’s decision will have on neighborhoods around the City.  If the City allows Walmart to buy zoning to allow it to build a commercial development next to this residential area, it makes every neighborhood in the City susceptible to the whim of developers. 

Save Your Neighborhood is not opposed to the City’s growth, but maintains that such growth must be logical and consistent.  Further, the group welcomes commercial development and a Walmart to the south side of the City, but maintains that a large commercial development is inappropriate at this particular location.  There are far more appropriate building sites in southern Sioux Falls for this store.  Those locations would replicate the same proper buffering and improved access that our fellow citizens will soon enjoy at the new Walmart at 60th & Marion.

Save Your Neighborhood urges the citizens of Sioux Falls to send the City a message:  that our neighborhoods are not for sale to the highest bidder and zoning in this City cannot be bought.  Vote “NO” on Referred Law 4. 

Feb 17

Indoor pool supporters take to the phones

Since last week, Sioux Falls voters have been getting calls asking their stance on indoor and outdoor pools.

Indoor pool supporters commissioned the survey under the registered group Community Swim 365.

The idea, said Community Swim Chairwoman Margaret Sumption, “is to help frame the information and help voters understand why they should vote no on April 8.”

Argus reporter Beth Wischmeyer received a call Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Tweeted about some of the questions. 

Just received a survey call from Clark Research, asking me a lot or questions about the upcoming April municipal election.

— Beth Wischmeyer (@Argus_BWisch) February 12, 2014

The questions were heavily focused on the pool issue, she said, but also asked who she would vote for in the mayoral race: Mike Huether or Greg Jamison.

The ballot will ask voters if the city should build a new outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park. The city had been heading toward putting an indoor aquatics center at the park in west-central Sioux Falls before a group of neighbors opposed to the idea petitioned to put the matter on the ballot.

The city parks department’s recent presentations on the pool options have caused a stir. They had plans drawn up for both indoor and outdoor facilities.

One question during the phone survey asked if the city should use public funds to educate voters on the issues.

Sumption said she personally believes it’s helpful for the city to provide information ahead of the vote.

She did not know how long the phone surveys would continue or how many people they hope to reach. 

Feb 12

An education campaign about education campaigns

According to the city’s top legal man, the group petitioning to stop city officials from “educating” voters about ballot issues is up against a Supreme Court ruling.

The group argues that the city’s effort to educate is really an attempt to sway the vote. City Attorney David Pfeifle, however, said that state law and case law allow such education efforts in the run up to an election.

The citizen group took out a petition last week and hopes to put the matter to a vote this fall. 

"I fail to see how this petition could be upheld," Pfeifle said.

The Supreme Court says government officials have a right to free speech and the ability to educate the public, he said. That could mean giving presentations, posting information to the web, or distributing pamphlets explaining what council would do if measure is adopted or if it’s not.

“You are putting a gag order on city government from even expressing educational information,” he said.

Some have been critical of the city parks and recreation department’s recent presentations about the Spellerberg pool. Voters will be asked this April if they support spending $7.5 million for a new outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park. City officials have been pushing for an indoor pool there instead.

When the city spent $46,000 to draw up pretty plans for both indoor and outdoor pools, the outdoor supporters weren’t happy. Some felt the city was trying to lure voters to their side by showing the grand design for an indoor pool.

“Has the city really been just fact oriented?” Councilor Kermit Staggers asked, noting that the ballot question is about an outdoor pool. “Why are we talking about an indoor pool?”

Councilor Michelle Erpenbach is concerned about what would happen if voters approve the ban on city education campaigns.

“It’s going to put the city in an expensive position, because if that becomes law here we’re violating the Supreme Court decision,” she said.

If this measure makes the ballot, it will make for one interesting campaign from the city – an education campaign about about stopping education campaigns.

Which, by the way, concerns me as a journalist. If the information holders at City Hall are afraid that anything they say or any document they provide would be considered an education campaign and an attempt to sway the vote, are they going to stonewall every question and lock away project plans until the election is over?

The city’s information is public information. It’s up to us journalists and voters to learn all we can about the issue and its implications and make our own responsible decisions.

Here’s what our own Mr. Lalley had to say about it in his Sunday column: http://www.argusleader.com/article/20140209/COLUMNISTS0111/302090028?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

Feb 04

Council candidate holding Q&A

Sioux Falls City Council candidate Denny Pierson will take questions as he formally announces his campaign at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at the downtown library. 

Pierson, a former legislator, is vying for the most contested at large seat, currently held by Jim Entenman, who will not run for re-election. So far, Rep. Christine Erickson, Rob Knutson and Glen Rice have filed for the position. Candidates are circulating their nominating petitions now, and more could join the race before the end of the month. 

Pierson, a member of the city’s planning commission, said future growth is one of his chief concerns. 

"We must plan for this growth with prudence and common sense to ensure that our growth is managed in a positive way to the betterment, not to the detriment, of property owners," he said in a news release. 

Here’s what our opinion panel had to say about growth: http://www.argusleader.com/article/20140204/voices/302050001/argus-leader-opinion-panel-public-input-vital-sound-growth