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.

PUBLIC INPUT:

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.

DEALING WITH DEPARTMENT HEADS:

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.

SNOW GATES:

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.

MEDIA:

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.

CODE ENFORCEMENT:

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.

Miscellaneous

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.



10 comments ↓

#1 Warren Phear on 04.24.18 at 7:26 pm

I have a question for Theresa. I have followed your advocacy for many years. I admire what you have done as a councilor. When you run for mayor, you will have 100% of my support. The Argus did a story on you a while back. I did not realize how much you are driven by your faith. That being said, the Family Heritage Alliance recently endorsed tenhaken. That endorsement was largely driven by, (and pre determined IMO) by how the candidates answered their survey questions. The following is one of them. If you have read previous comments on this topic, you know how I feel. How do you feel?

As mayor how will you respond when city employees keep bibles on their desks in the city office and request to use city conference rooms to conduct Bible studies after working hours?

Paul TenHaken: I actually plan to do this myself. That statement should tell you all you need to know.

#2 D@ily Spin on 04.24.18 at 9:07 pm

Anything after Huether is an improvement. Somehow the people got left out of government. Theresa seems to have prepared herself for transition. From all appearances, the mayor’s race is a dead heat. I’ll accept new government. It’s unfortunate Kiley could not be unseated but he’ll hardly matter with the new council composure. From 2018 on is a time to correct for corruption and focus on quality of life. Sioux Falls experienced phenomenal growth. Huether wasted the gain on saunas and tennis. Take what’s left and preserve our culture, families, and democracy.

#3 LJL on 04.24.18 at 10:14 pm

Code Enforcement
Paul: Make it more proactive…. “Strict and aggressive”

No thanks. I’m sick of having a city overlord. Permits for new shingles, lawn sprinklers and replacing deck boards is couple of examples out of control government.

I was going to obstain from voting from either but I will now be voting for Jolene.

#4 l3wis on 04.25.18 at 7:59 am

I think when Paul said last night in the KELO debate that he ‘invests in real estate’ that was enough for me to seal the deal. We don’t need another 8 years of insider developer investment deals.

#5 l3wis on 04.25.18 at 8:02 am

WP- I don’t think it is against the law to have a bible at your desk, I also don’t think it is against the law to read a bible at work (as long as you are on break time and not out loud 🙂 Where it gets shady is using public property to have prayer groups and bible study even if it off business hours. However, I do believe religious groups can ‘rent’ these spaces, but that may be a grey area.

#6 Theresa stehly on 04.25.18 at 8:08 am

Warren, I do keep a pocket Bible in my Council desk and I always keep a devotional in my purse. I believe that we have a right to express our faith and mine has sustained me on this journey.

I frequently hear from desperate citizens who are struggling with health issues, City harassment , City disrespect and City abuse issues , financial issues and family concerns.

In addition to trying to assist them in my City Council role, I find that frequently God comes up in the conversation and we may share a prayer about the problem.

I am deeply grateful for the prayers we offer at the beginning of our Council meetings. I am also cognizant of the need to refrain from using public/City resources for personal use. (Although the public library is used for all sorts of things..I believe that a person could have a Bible study in a meeting room.)

I don’t have an office in City government and up to this point, the only time I use City space at the Carnegie Town Hall or City Hall, has been for City business. AMEN

#7 l3wis on 04.25.18 at 8:13 am

Theresa brings up a good point that I heard about a couple of months ago and never knew about. The city council has NO official office space. In other words if they wanted to come to Carnegie and research an issue they don’t have a desk or office to use to do that. The city council literally has to use their homes as their offices. They do however get to use a city owned laptop and get reimbursement for their cell phones.

#8 J on 04.25.18 at 9:18 am

L3wis, a lot of business owners invest in real estate. It’s a safe investment in a city like Sioux Falls that has high demand. I’m not sure on all of Paul’s real estate investments…the only property that I know he owns is the Click Rain/BBB Building.

#9 l3wis on 04.25.18 at 9:32 am

J – Paul talked about it in the KELO debate. I don’t have a problem with elected officials investing in real estate, where I take issue is when they are using inside information to cut deals, as Huether has done. I get very, very, very skeptical when a mayoral candidate has taken campaign contributions from big developers and investors in town.

#10 Warren Phear on 04.25.18 at 11:05 am

I have no problem with anything Theresa had stated. I also agree with what l3wis had said about meeting in a public place. Without going thru it all again, I did say what I feel on this in post number 23 of the “tenhaken not attending diversity forum” post of April 21.

Again, Theresa, thank you for your service.