Final thoughts on the Mayoral Election

(Screenshot from the final Argus Leader debate)

No matter what I said in the past about both candidates, make no mistake, both have worked very hard to get where they are today. I commend their enthusiasm and passion when it comes to Sioux Falls. While letter writers to the paper will tell you their candidate loves the city more then the other candidate, I would disagree. I think both of them love this city equally and really want to serve you.


Mike Huether literally came out of nowhere. I think his second place in the general election was no mistake. I predicted all along it would be these two guys in the end. After polling behind Vernon Brown he knew he had to turn up the heat and he did. He organized his base, the Democrats and got his message out. No matter how you feel about that, it really doesn’t matter, it worked and it may very well get him a victory tomorrow. Remember, while Obama lost in Lincoln county, he got the majority of the vote in Minnehaha county, this fairs well for Huether. But there are some factors to look at. Obama’s poll numbers are not the best right now and I am sure there is some disenfranchised voters who voted for him that wouldn’t vote for him today. I voted for Obama, but he was never my ‘first choice’. It was more like an ‘anti-Palin’ vote to me and I sometimes wonder if voting for Mike will be an ‘anti-Staggers’ vote for many? Hiring Hildebrand to run his campaign was a smart move. But what I can’t figure out is why it took so long for the media to say something about it? I knew about it months ago and was confirmed to me by Huether himself. I often wonder if people would have known about it before the general election if that would have changed the election results? While Mike has been very successful in this campaign, and the money he has spent (more then double of what Staggers has spent), his hardcore campaigning, his hiring of an expert campaign strategist and his ‘outsider’ label has helped him greatly. If he wins, it won’t surprise me one bit.

But don’t count Kermit out. While Mike has spent more money then Kermit, Kermit has campaigned just as hard, if not harder, in fact he has been campaigning for this job for years. It was unfortunate that partisanship was brought into the race, and I am truly disappointed in both candidates for doing it. It actually pains me to defend it on Kermit’s side, but hey, you have to fight fire with fire. I truly believe Kermit wanted to keep it out of the race, and I truly believe Mike did to. Mike was up against the wall, and it was a last ditch effort on his part to knock out Vernon. While voters will tell you that they hate partisanship and negative campaigning, it seems to be working for both campaigns. I know that both campaigns have not only energized their hardcore supporters but have also energized their base over the past two weeks (Dems and Repubs) I just hope this hasn’t disenfranchised the indies, the ones who will ultimately decide this race.

People on both sides of the debate have good and bad arguments for defending the practice. On the positive side, I don’t think there is anything wrong with bringing different social philisophical arguments into the debate. While I despise talking about abortion and gay rights in a mayoral race, let’s face it the next mayor’s job is to set policy. Sometimes that policy has nothing to do with Events Centers and Roads, sometimes it has to do with massive social issues like education, the homeless, job equality, etc. Do I personally agree with Huether taking money from the Unions. No. Do I personally agree with Kermit bringing up abortion? No. But they are both equally as guilty, just as much as I am guilty of stirring the pot on some of these issues.

Up until a week before the general election, Mike was my ‘second choice’ I told him that repeatdedly in emails and to his face and I will have to agree these are the two best candidates, and we should consider ourselves very, very, lucky to have these choices.

But why? I can clarify really quickly why I think Peterson, Costello and Brown lost. Peterson was unknown to the average voter, but don’t blame the average voter or the media. Peterson did very little campaigning. This was apparent to me when one of his supporters asked me to sign his petition to run. Gathering your own signatures is the best way to campaign and get a feel of the voters. Peterson failed big time in campaigning. Costello lost because of his ties to special interests. His lack of experience didn’t help much either. As for Brown, I will say this, his lack of funds really hurt him in the end, he also got to sure of himself after the poll came out. Mike outspent him and out organized him. I like Vernon and actually agree with him on many social issues facing our city, like the homeless. In a lot of ways Vernon and Mike agree on many issues, like spending money on quality of life projects like there is no tomorrow. The difference is Vernon has a voting record on the matter and Mike can dodge the question when he needs to. I think a lot of voters disagree with Vernon’s stance on projects like the Zoo. When our streets are falling apart, why are we buying new monkey crappers for the zoo? It just doesn’t make sense.


While I have pounded Mike over the past few weeks on a whole host of issues (and to be honest with you, I didn’t think I was going to be able to dig up much dirt on him, boy was I wrong) There is some things I like about Mike. In the face of the public, he is very passionate, this is important. I also agree with him wanting to make investments within the city (though I think Kermit’s investment ideas are better). I also agree with him that the Events Center task force’s plan was flawed. In fact I sat next to him in one of the final meetings and we whispered back and forth discussing what was being presented, it was clear to me then, that Mike wasn’t buying the plan. I also agree that we must be fiscally responsible even though he repackaged that idea from Kermit, and the fact that a liberal Democrat talking about fiscal responsibility is an oxymoron, I think Mike knows that not only must he support the idea, I think he must implement it as mayor. It is pretty clear that Mike knows people are really pissed off about the economic shape of our city, and while Munson and other city officials pretend there is nothing wrong, the public knows better.

So why my opposition to Mike? It comes down to some basic things that have nothing to do with him being a Democrat, being partisan or taking union money. He has no government record. Zilch. All we have with Mike is promises. I was really unclear of how much Mike knew about government and particularly city government up until last week. Heck, there was a part of me that thought he might know more then he puts on. Hardly. Last week during the Argus Leader debate it became clear that Mike knew little about regulation (his solution was to hire more compliance officers) and very little about city budgets (one of the journalists asking the questions actually corrected him when Mike seemed confused about the Parks budget). While Mike touts his business experience, lets be clear, he worked in the marketing department at First Premier Bankcard, not the finance department. Do I want someone who can market our city well? Sure, but they must first understand how our city operates before they can sell it.

I will start out with Kermit’s negatives first. A majority of Kermit’s years on the city council have been very productive, but sometimes he barks up the wrong tree. While I appreciate him for not being a rubberstamper, there is just some things that need to be rubberstamped. I also think that Kermit sometimes is TOO conservative on financial issues, he sometimes pinched pennies instead of pinching dollar bills. For instance his stance on the new clubhouse for Prairie Green golf course. While I could give two-shits about a new clubhouse for a bunch of golfers, the facts are clear; the city courses make money for the city, let them build a new clubhouse. The new homeless shelter will save the city money in law enforcement, let’s build it. Kermit also is a great debater, which I love about him, but sometimes he just needs to admit when he is beat and turn the other cheek.

But why do I think Kermit’s positives outweigh his negatives? Because there is a multitude of them. Besides Kermit’s 21 years of public service experience, his intellect and knowledge of government, law and taxation is unmatched by anyone in the city. You don’t get to be a professor of political science for 28 years by being a dummy. But even better then that, Kermit has many progressive ideas to move the city forward, and they focus around the citizenry, something he has a proven track record in while serving on the city council for 8 years. The voters have agree with him when he has opposed some major policy changes. Like fee and tax increases, supposed quality of life projects, ordinance changes, etc. I could go on and on. Kermit has always sided with you, the citizen and not the special interests. This is commendable, and I think he will continue this policy as mayor. Kermit knows a city can only be great if it centers it’s greatness around superior customer service for it’s citizens, this means less taxes and fees, deregulation and more DIRECT services to the citizenry (like tree trimming, fixing sidewalks and roads and snowgates). These are REAL quality of life projects that help make all of our lives better.

But the one thing I like the most about Kermit is his honesty. You may not always agree with him, but you will always know he is telling the truth. This is a comforting trait in a politician.

I will take both candidates to task for their partisanship though. I really wish that Kermit would not have gone down that road, but I guess we will find out if it pays off tomorrow to fight fire with fire.


I want to end by saying I wish them both the best of luck, win or lose, and I hope no matter who wins (sorry I have no predictions this time) that I stand by what I have always said when I am knee deep in the political bullshit, I’m not a hater, If I end up hating a politician it just takes the fun out of what I do here. Am I cynical, sarcastic and foul sometimes? Sure, but the truth isn’t always pretty. This has been one of my biggest disappointments in the race, the editorializing of the candidates (both of them) by the local media and their constant blabbering about an Events Center and Quality-of-Life projects. We get it, you have an agenda, now let’s talk about the REAL issues.

I have had many great conversations with BOTH candidates over the past months leading up to this and have given BOTH of them tons of advice (yes to Mike to). I have enjoyed being in the middle of the debate and if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it any differently, it has been a blast, and truly entertaining and life changing for me. NOW GET OUT AND VOTE!

Now I can finally get back to painting.


#1 Daizi46 on 04.26.10 at 6:29 am

I have to admit…I really really like your blog today…and agree that we are very fortunate to have the two final candidates that we do. I think they both have dug in and really worked hard for the vote. Now, whomever wins…better hit the pavement running…because there will be many behind them…watching, waiting, and sometimes…yelling to get going!

#2 l3wis on 04.26.10 at 6:32 am

I agree. They both have different visions but they both have their work cut out for them. The one thing they agree on is that the city can do better, much better.

#3 Costner on 04.26.10 at 6:50 am

I agree – both are strong candidates and both have their respective traits which will move this city forward.

I actually think Staggers’ last ditch effort to paint Huether as a liberal Democrat will hurt Kermit more than Mike – because I think Kermit forgot that Sioux Falls has more Democrats than Republicans.

Either way I expect Staggers to lose by around 12 points plus or minus 3. The only way that may not happen is if we have a sunny day that allows the assisted living crowd the opportunity to make it to the polls. If it is raining the blue hairs aren’t going to want to risk getting their curls wet and won’t bother.

Either way I look forward to the next few years to see where we go. I just hope if Huether wins he stops using the word ‘prudence’ every other sentence… it is annoying and trite.

#4 Plaintiff Guy on 04.26.10 at 8:10 am

Your point about Heuther having no political experience is important. Had he (at least) been on the council, we’d know his modus operandus. Politics and business may be similar but eithers’ operations are much different.

Heuther represented credit card practices. I’m worried he’d continue city ‘fee harvesting’ like Munson but (worse) with credit card tactics.

Considering the candidates field, these are the 2 best finalists. Either can enter fresh into the office and Sioux Falls will become a better place. After all, there was no worse mayor in Sioux Falls history than Munson.

#5 Skyorbit on 04.26.10 at 9:21 am

I find it weird that you think Huether was your 2nd choice. Personally, I felt he was the worst of the bunch from the beginning, and now that I’ve caught him in numerous lies, and flip-flops these last 2 weeks, I feel more strongly that way.

#6 Poly43 on 04.26.10 at 9:39 am

Either way I expect Staggers to lose by around 12 points plus or minus 3. The only way that may not happen is if we have a sunny day that allows the assisted living crowd the opportunity to make it to the polls. If it is raining the blue hairs aren’t going to want to risk getting their curls wet and won’t bother.


You would be sadly mistaken if you believe what you just wrote. I am going to assume there is some snarkiness about your take on “blue hairs”.

I’m a registered Dem, so is “honest” mike. Kermit is a Republican who attended a tea party looking for votes. One would think I’d be solidly in mikes corner. I am not. I pay close attention to local issues. That’s why I come here. I KNOW lewis attends nearly ALL council meetings. I like his take on things pertaining to nearly all things local. I find myself in agreement with most of what l3wis posts here. That being said, you know why I like Kermit.

I do not care for mike for much the same reasons as Plaintiff Guy just pointed out.

The runoff election? At first, I figured mike by ten points. Now I’m not so sure. If the turnout is high, and by high I mean anything over the poor turnout we just experienced, then mike might win by that ten points. We had what?…about 34,000, or 1 in 3 show up for the first run? The Argus says many may have stayed home the first round and will be out to vote this time around. Maybe. Maybe not. I just don’t see all the 50 percent who voted for the other 3 candidates to actually give a $hit who wins this time around. In fact, I suspect some hard feelings in light of “honest” mikes last day campaign push aimed at peterson and brown.

Absentee voting is going to be higher this go around. 3 in 4 of those will go to huether. The dems are notorious for getting voters to vote absentee. All this being said, I see mike only winning by 4 percentage points, 14,000 votes to about 13,000 for Kermit. Could be the other way around tho. At least that’s what I’m hopin for. At any rate, I do not see the winner of this election garnering much more than about 14,000 votes. That’s only about 1 in 7 eligable voters who agree with either candidates vision. Sad really. I am sure whoever wins will declare a mandate…much like the one bush made after 2004.

‘I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it’

I take that back. Kermit would never say that. Mike on the other hand? Who knows? I really think l3wis nailed it with that toon of mikes gift wrapped box and the asterick with the too small to read font. A classic l3wis. What did that too small to read font say again?

#7 l3wis on 04.26.10 at 10:01 am

I predict around 22,000 voters.

#8 Plaintiff Guy on 04.26.10 at 10:02 am

An important variable is the 10,000 camera tickets, the 8,000 citations, and the 30,000 home business fees. They are angry. Many went to the polls and will return for the runoff. They look to Staggers for advocating kinder city government and his key votes taking exception to the council’s mayoral blow jobs.

#9 different location on 04.26.10 at 10:26 am

Well good article but no name. WHo worte it?
But Kermit didn’t start the partisan thing. Mike did and Kermit followed when I reported to him that Mike was telling businesses on 12th St. he was a Dem or Repb depending on their comments while he was on foot. We verified this with (12th street business owner). So let’s be accurate.

#10 l3wis on 04.26.10 at 11:43 am

I wrote it.

And let’s not speculate here. I ‘heard’ he may have been ‘hinting’ that he WAS NOT a Democrat, but I don’t think he was flat out lying to them and telling them he was a Republican. I heard Erpenbach was pulling the same thing. No surprise, instead of answering a question, Mike likes to avoid the question.

#11 sidestreets on 04.26.10 at 1:14 pm

Damn! This is quite the professional write up! Your one hell of a writer. I mean that sincerely!!

#12 PMC on 04.26.10 at 1:17 pm

Mike certainly stoked the partisan fires with his “Daschle” postcard, but Kermit is the one publicly declaring himself the “Republican candidate.” WE will see if it works. It is probably his only shot at pulling this off.

Part of me still thinks moderate Republicans are going to see Kermit as “cooky.” His adds are a little a little spooky. Kermit certainly isn’t the prettiest man I have ever met. His sense of fashion smacks of the tea party nutty professor. Even the crowd that gathered at his home after the first election looked a little “out there.”

I liked Peterson. But between Huether and Staggers I have to vote for Mike. Kermit is too fringe. He wasn’t able to legislate effectively as a council member (did i read that over 75% of his amendments weren’t even seconded?) And I can’t imagine they will cooperate with him as Mayor (especially when we factor in a few of the recent “liberal” additions to the body.) And yes L3wis I understand that the city charter (as written by Bill) places much of the power in the hands of the Mayor. Still, it would be nice if we were looking towards 4 years of moderately amiable relationships between the Council and Mayor’s offices.

Make no mistake, Kermit would certainly change the city up. For the better? Not sure. But I do think that he is viewed by many as “fringe.” I can’t imagine we will see straight party line voting this cycle. Mike will have bipartisan support. Kermit will not (but I certainly give him points for being scrappy. He is giving Huether a run for his money. Feisty old bastard.)

#13 l3wis on 04.26.10 at 7:07 pm

Oh, I don’t think Kermit is fringe. You should meet him sometime, your opinion about him would change. Don’t you think it is a little odd that a liberal, prochoice, anti-discrimination, anti-censorship artist like myself would support Kermit? It’s not odd, if you really meet the guy. While I think Mike is an ‘alright’ guy I just worry about his qualifications. I think it is really funny how Kermit looks so serious when he is on TV or in a debate, but in person he is constantly smiling and has an incredible sense of humor. That is kinda the odd difference between Kermit and Mike. While Mike shows himself as Mr. Nice guy when a camera is pointed at him, and drops F-bombs when it is not, Kermit is the exact opposite. There has only been a few occasions that Kermit seemed angry about something the media did, but he never swore about it, and never would.

Vote Kermit, if he disappoints you, vote him out of office in 4 years.

#14 Poly43 on 04.27.10 at 3:40 am

Kermit certainly isn’t the prettiest man I have ever met. His sense of fashion smacks of the tea party nutty professor. Even the crowd that gathered at his home after the first election looked a little “out there.”


So now one has to be a pretty man to hold down the job of mayor? Let me guess. That’s why you repeatedly vote for guys like thune. I saw the crowd that gathered at Kermit’s home. There sense of fashion may not be the same as yours, but then I really do not believe these are the kind of people that belong to the Minnehaha Country Club where FASHION is a staple. They are just common working people with a common goal.

He wasn’t able to legislate effectively as a council member (did i read that over 75% of his amendments weren’t even seconded?)


And 90% of those 75% made WAAAAAY too much common sense for a rubberstamp council. What is your point again?

Mike will have bipartisan support. Kermit will not.


Like l3wis, I am viewed in some circles, at least in the blog world, as a liberal dem. Like l3wis, I also am in full support of Kermit. Coming from a working man union background, I can also assure you their are more who feel exactly as I do. I, like others in the real work world will NEVER vote for a man who’s livelihood for the last decade has been preying on the too young, the too old, and the too uneducated.

I listened to VPU last nite for about the 4th or 5th time in 4 years. VPU is frequented by mostly fringe righties. Just wanted to get a feel for how political this race has become amongst those who bow at the altar of john thune. It is political, at least for a majority of that listening group when talking about yourmanmike.