Entries Tagged 'Theresa Stehly' ↓

The NEW Council looks a little like the OLD Council

So you would think after the first meeting of our new mayor my barbs would be flying towards Paul. Nope. He did a fine job, even reading a proclamation to a non-existent recipient. And how could he go wrong with a bouquet of flowers in front of him from Stehly’s garden?

In the appointment category, the council did move forward by nominating and electing councilor Brekke to the operations committee. Brekke’s first course of business should be opening the meetings to the public.

The big disappointment of the night? The council towing the old way of doing things and electing Selberg (rubber stamper) to the vice-chair position. Selberg has done nothing for two years except warm a chair, and that is what they wanted, a yes man. While I will try to stay optimistic, I’m afraid this move was a way to keep things just the way they are, leadership embargoing information from ‘certain’ councilors, the public and the media.

They know if Starr would have had that position he would have actually embraced open government and shared leadership information with the rest of the council, the public and media. Oh we can’t have that, can we.

Status quo right on day one. You should be so proud of yourself Councilor Neitzert. We wouldn’t want to overturn the apple cart.

Happy Mother’s Day from Councilor Stehly’s Garden

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women in our world who nurture, encourage and love others. We appreciate you!! – Theresa Stehly

More City Council Elections to Come


This is a guest post by Sioux Falls City Councilor, Theresa Stehly;

Now that we have voted for two new City Council members, there is one more election happening at the next May 15 City Council meeting. This is the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Council. These positions are very important for the public, because these people have the ability to empower or thwart the Council’s representation for the citizens. They have historically received inside information that all City Council members are not privy too. As a City Council member, I feel that this practice does not serve our citizens well and hinders transparency.

Here are the top 10 questions that need to be addressed from potential candidates:

  1. What are your plans to get all the council members and the public information in a timely manner?
  2. How will you communicate this written information with the council and the public?
  3. How do you plan to bring more transparency into the process?
  4. How will you empower the council to better serve the public?
  5. How will you handle committee assignments and the appointments of committee chairs? Will you be willing to step down from a committee chair if elected to the leadership position and allow someone else the opportunity to chair a committee?
  6. How will you handle requests from Council members to get an issue on the agenda?
  7. What is your commitment to defending our rights as Council members to speak to the media, the department heads and the public?
  8. What is your commitment to responding to the public and preserving public input?
  9. What is your commitment to treating each Council member and the public with respect and defending their right to speak at Council meetings?
  10. How do you plan to heal the fractured relationship within the City Council?

I invite the public to tune into the City Council meetings on CityLink channel 16 at 7:00 PM on Tuesdays. Informational meetings are held at 4:00 PM on Tuesdays also.  View the meetings at Siouxfalls.org. I am hoping for a new era of respect, transparency and citizen representation in our government.

Theresa Stehly

At Large City Council Member

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly talks Public Input and Citizen Focused Initiatives

Promises made . . . Promises Kept. (Guest Post, Theresa Stehly)

I recently had the pleasure of visiting with mayoral candidates Jolene Loetscher and Paul TenHaken about some of the issues of the day. I am very excited about a new era of transparency, citizen representation and governmental accountability that will be ushered into Sioux Falls with this election. It is a hopeful time for our Sioux Falls citizens.  I am also grateful to have a respectful relationship with Paul and Jolene.


Jolene: She stated that she has no plans to change it as it now exists. She wants to work for expansion of public access. She referenced being at the Benson’s Flea Market and having beautiful conversations with the working folks who passed through.

Paul: He stated a desire to return to decorum and professionalism. He wants to find ways to communicate with mutual respect, both from the elected officials and the citizens testifying.

Me: I am a staunch advocate of allowing the citizens to speak at the beginning of the meeting. I believe that with a new mayor, many of the contentious outbursts will dissipate.


Paul: He desires 12 good people to lead. He will assess the performance of the current directors after he is in office. He believes that the Mayor sets the tone for citizen advocacy and proper communication from the department heads. He wants respectful, responsive discourse.

Jolene: The department heads will need to be as committed to open and transparent government as she will be. They need to have a commitment to the citizens.

Me: I feel that there needs to be more accountability and oversight in the spending of each department. Also, we need to find ways to help the department heads connect and listen more to the citizens. We need more emphasis on customer service for the citizens.


Jolene: She has heard good things from the community about them.

Paul: He STRONGLY supports their continued use.

Me: I think we should implement a snow gate hotline. We should mark all motor graders with a big number. The citizens can then call in with compliments and concerns about the quality of the service.


Paul: He will appoint a Deputy Chief of Staff who will be empowered to speak to the media. He also wants to implement a media roundtable. He wants to hear from the media: “how can we best communicate with you?” He has been transparent with the media during the campaign. .

Jolene: She believes it is crucial to embrace the media. She stated “Close out the media, close out the people.” The media’s role is to cover city news and hold the city accountable for what is coming out of city hall.

Me: Of course, when the media shows up…everyone behaves better. The coverage from the Media in the last year is the biggest reason we have Transparency at the top of the list for citizen concerns. Friend and former councilor Greg Jamison once told me “Theresa, if the media doesn’t show up, it didn’t happen.” He was right.


Jolene: Respect for due process, No harassment of citizens, Implement compassionate enforcement. Lead and help people to grow without a hostile environment. Do more with citywide cleanup. She would like to implement more help from volunteers like senior citizens.

Paul: Make it more proactive…. “Strict and aggressive” while still not infringing on the rights of property owners. He believes that well-kept areas will be a deterrent to crime. He likes project NICE and is open to using inmates and temp labor to assist in helping with trimming trees and other labor needs in the city.

Me: Encourage neighbors to help one another, instead of turning them into the city for violations. Encourage city employees to help citizens more. We want to find ways to help neighbors care for one another and make this a community where we show love and kindness to one another. There is a growing spirit of hostility happening from one area of town to another. We need to bring people together. Many things can be remedied with some kindness and considerate conversation.


Paul and Jolene are both eager to have regular input sessions from all the council members and to inform the council about upcoming projects and budgetary items. They both said they are committed to transparency in governmental affairs.

Jolene and Paul are both willing to look at using inmates or senior citizens to fill in the gaps for city services.

We also touched briefly upon transportation, RFP secrecy, Park board district representation, project TRIM and city Debt. I didn’t discuss all of these with each candidate, so you can ask them yourselves for their perspectives.

Who is Councilor Theresa Stehly going to vote for?

Trust me, if I had the answer to that question, I would let you know. I do know at this point she is undecided, and she has told me so. But I do think she is leaning towards one of them.

She has said she has had several wonderful private conversations with both. Mostly to lay out what her agenda will be on the council over the next two years. I think that is a good approach.

She told me she has to work with either and it would be unfair to endorse or even tell people who she is voting for, and I agree.

But let’s look at reality here folks, doesn’t matter if it is Jo or Paul, the council is the policy making board of the city, and you are going to see that happening. I think councilors Neitzert, Erickson, Starr, Stehly and Brekke would be the first to tell you they are going to take that bull by the horns come May 16. And if DeBoer wins (GO ZACH!) you will see another added to that team. It could become a very lonely place for Kiley and Selberg no matter who is sitting at city hall.

I think you will see one of the strongest councils since the new charter was formed. Be for warned, when you combine a strong legislative body with more open government, things are going to seem very messy for awhile, but this is what government is supposed to look like when it is out in the sunshine and not behind closed doors. I think all of the sausage making will be beneficial to the citizens in the end.

I sat down for 45 minutes yesterday with mayoral candidate TenHaken, we discussed many things like public input, public funding of the arts and the Pavilion, satire in politics and forensic audits and budgeting. I told Paul that it will be essential for the next mayor and council to put on the brakes in 2018 and start from scratch. Really take an in depth look at our finances before moving forward with any new fees, taxes or monument projects like baseball stadiums. I told him that I don’t think the citizenry will hold it against the mayor or the council for taking this year for a gut check, I think most would praise them for it.

I look forward to 2018 no matter who becomes mayor. And when there is missteps, I will make sure they are held accountable.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Theresa Stehly endorses Janet Brekke

This is not uncommon for sitting elected officials to endorse other candidates. When Cynthia Mickelson was running for School Board, Erickson publicly endorsed her.

Either way, any elected official can endorse a candidate. It is well within their 1st Amendment rights and freedom of speech.

Councilors Starr & Stehly receive a tongue lashing, for NO good reason

FF: 2:19

Let’s say you are a city councilor and a deadly accident occurred in one of our city parks. Similar accidents have occurred over the years. Let’s also say that the public would like the issue looked into. As a representative of the citizens, wouldn’t you look into it? I would hope so. That is exactly what councilors Starr and Stehly have been trying to do. Than you find out that a safety audit never happened, it was actually a ‘training exercise’. Wouldn’t you be concerned about the information you were receiving? So Starr and Stehly asked for the information through a resolution. IMO, a last resort. When cooperation from staff was NOT helpful, they went to the media and my blog, sharing an OPINION of the city attorney. This IS NOT confidential information. It is simply an opinion of a city staffer who wages are paid for by the public, which makes it ‘public information’.

Some think that councilors Stehly and Starr do these kind of things to boost their egos. Maybe they do, I could care less. I really see their main objective is to get information to the public which should be one of their top duties as a city councilor. I really think Starr and Stehly understand that concept, that duty, and do whatever they need to, to attain that objective. They should be applauded for it. And that really is the irony of the ass chewing they received from the 6 other councilors. I think the public does appreciate Starr and Stehly, and when other councilors choose to publicly chastise her and Pat for doing their jobs, it only emboldens them and makes them even more popular with the citizens.

I recently spoke with 3 different council candidates on 3 separate occasions. Of the hundreds of doors they have knocked on collectively all 3 of them told me the #1 issue citizens bring up is transparency and secrecy in local government. Citizens are not naïve, they get it, this secrecy is corroding our local government. The secret siding settlement, the Copper Lounge Collapse and the approval of the DT Parking ramp has infuriated the public. They see the corruption and it is VERY real.

The other thing that was sad about the incident (Item#77, last agenda item Tuesday Night) was this seemed like an orchestrated effort by the 6 other councilors either thru a series of phone calls or emails to attack a fellow peer. One other thing that makes this hypocritical of them is while they cry about respect and decorum from the citizens who pay their wages who speak at public input, they throw any ounce of decorum out the window with this very public attack. I guess you could say ‘leading by example’.

I applaud Stehly for what she said in response to the attack, “I will not collaborate with corruption.” She also said she was elected to represent the citizens, not the administration or different department heads.

And the hits keep coming.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Theresa Stehly’s message to the Mayor & Media

Theresa sent this out this afternoon to the mayor and media after the tragic incident at Falls Park;

Dear Mayor Huether and Director Kearney,

I am writing to voice my concerns about the tragedy at the Falls.  Citizens have also been expressing their concerns with adequate safety while preserving the beauty and access to the falls.

I am urging your support  of increased signage and a temporary barrier  during the spring season due to the  dangerous foam and slippery terrain at the site of the three tragic deaths. I will support appropriating funds to make these safeguards a reality, along with any effort to clean out the foam in the area.

A temporary Spring fence could be done in a way to enhance the beauty, while adding extra protection to visitors.

Our prayers go out to the family of visitors who lost their beloved daughter. Let us work as a community to ensure that this does not happen again.

Thank you for your consideration,

Theresa Stehly

I’m against permanent fencing, I think when they put up the chainlink fence around the Japanese Gardens at Covell Lake it ruined it.

I do agree though there should be a much bigger and prominent signage that is permanent, and maybe temporary fencing in the Spring when water levels are high around the dangerous areas. They have put in temporary fencing in the past after heavy rains. It’s not a matter of funding, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars decorating Falls Park during the holiday season, we have the resources to put up temporary fencing. Another thing that could also be added to the larger warning signs is the potential hazards with just touching the water which has high levels of chemicals and E-Coli in it (the mayor has refused to put up the recommended signage in the past). If the rushing water doesn’t scare you, the possible health affects should.

It would be hard to clean up the naturally occurring foam.

But I also believe people must take some personal responsibility, and no amount of signage or fences can fix ignorance. If something looks dangerous, it probably is.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly to decide this week if she will run for mayor

Theresa obviously knows the deadline is Friday, so she will need at least a couple of days to get signatures to turn in by Friday at 5 PM. So if she does decide to run, we will know by Wednesday for sure.

I know she has been mulling this over for a couple of months and we have had several ‘difficult’ discussions about the possibility.

She told me today, “I have had several citizens approach me asking me to run.”

Obviously if Stehly runs she is probably a shoe-in for the run-off. She would also probably be knocking out the chances of other candidates like Anderson and Loetscher.

I guess we will see what she decides.

What do you think? Can Stehly break the 50+1 threshold in a run-off?