Sioux Falls City Election; Democracy Candidates got their butts kicked . . . kinda.

There was a couple of good things that happened yesterday. We got some much needed rain, AG Rumblestrips got impeached and the mayor’s salary increase failed (that one was easy to predict).

I will admit, the candidates that lost don’t have any excuses, the other side played a better game. The Dutch Mafia has a strong following and the troops were well organized. I only assisted one candidate with a logo design and verbal advice, I had very little to do with the other campaigns except for my endorsements. I only spoke with Pam Cole two times when I signed her petition and at a forum and I spoke with NO ONE from the Islam campaign. In fact, Taneeza personally called David Z and asked him to drop out of the race so he wouldn’t steal votes from her. This is the main reason I supported David. Taneeza was playing the same political games as TenHaken. But who can top his intimidation tactics by threatening candidates then pretending he is the victim. It was a scare tactic that worked. It doesn’t matter how low you go, as long as you win.

The mayoral race and At-Large B races were easy to predict. TenHaken was impossible to beat, nobody had a chance. Also, Rich Merkouris had a stellar campaign. But those were NOT the only factors. The Wine and Cheese Democrats were running the opponents campaigns, they use the same playbook over and over again expecting different results. Their topics are always the same, help poor people, gay rights, childcare, poor people housing, addiction, public transit, the homeless. You know, all the bummer topics that the good Rich White Christian positive folks in Sioux Falls do NOT want to hear or talk about in Taupeville, because those problems don’t exist in their neighborhood and they proved that last night.

I also think when it comes to the campaigns of Ingle, Reistroffer and Brekke, a ground game doesn’t work anymore (direct mail, knocking on doors, etc.) unless it is in combination with a strong digital marketing strategy. I also don’t think robocalls and texting is a good idea. I am not sure it angers a lot of people, because I think they are used to it, I think they just ignore it. You also have to take into account that you CANNOT be your own campaign manager. There was a lot of that going on. You need someone in your campaign that will be critical of the decisions you make. I can pretty much guarantee all the winners last night were NOT running their own campaigns.

If I had to guess the winning campaigns threw tons of money at digital ads targeting the SE District (Taupeville). But I think the main strategy of targeting Dutch Mafia Churches (a lot of campaigning was going on in the churches) worked brilliantly. There is a national movement going on that involves extreme right wing politics and targeting churches for campaigns. Unfortunately the money came from a handful of people who think of themselves as kingmakers using PACS to concentrate large amounts of donations and fail to file any of their campaign finance reports before the election. But even if they would have, would the media cover it? Doubtful. I was the only person who talked about Sarah Cole’s voting record. Not one single media source touched it. (It’s going to be fun watching her learning curve. I guarantee you will hear zero discussion from her the first year on the dais. I nicknamed her Sarah Selberg.) It also didn’t hurt that the city conveniently partners with churches for polling precincts. I have never agreed with this. All polling places should be in publicly funded buildings, like community centers and schools. There is NO reason taxpayers should be paying churches rent for polling places.

Media bias also played a role. It was shown over an over again that the media was in the bag with Poops, and of course anyone he endorsed. There were many behind the scene conversations with reporters about their media bias. And when you would point it out, they would cry like little babies. There was also an incredibly strong push for voter suppression. We had to beg the city clerk to put a sample ballot out before voter registration deadline and early voting started. The city did ZERO promotion of the election. This was probably NOT by accident. Voter suppression helps the ‘chosen candidates’.

After TenHaken won in 2018 I have been warning candidates about the power of the SE District voting bloc, and when the school bonds passed and Alex Jensen won, it further cemented my belief that Taupeville was a force to be reckon with. They proved this last night. They have a Maga Hat on their heads, a bible in their back pockets and a schedule filled with youth sports activities. I have told candidates over and over YOU NEED TO CAMPAIGN IN THE SE DISTRICT!


While the margins were good for the winners, this was hardly a mandate. Many people come on here and comment that most people in Sioux Falls don’t agree with the candidates that lost. I guess I really don’t know. I agree, not everything they support is mainstream. I joked last night with a Lincoln County Republican politician that I know my socialist ideas are not mainstream and that I could give two sh!ts about people who go to church, youth sports and childcare. The childcare issue could be easily fixed in Congress and Pierre by funding Pre-K and making it a National standard. Not one single candidate brought this up. I’m not sure there is a wide group of people that agree or disagree with the Democracy candidates, I just wonder if people really don’t care either way. My BFF tells me all the time (who is a Republican) that no one gives a sh!t about local government. I recently agreed with him. The voter turnout proved this.

When you look at the numbers around 7% of the total population picked the winners. You can look at the breakdown here. With only 24% of eligible voters participating. It is sad, but on the bright side it means the ones in charge don’t really have a mandate, just an election certificate.

Also factor in the bizarre undervote numbers (that prove once again the city suppressing the vote and information). Undervotes are people who submit a ballot but don’t check the box in every race. It is called an undervote because they left a certain race blank. There could be a number of factors. They could dislike all the candidates that are running, but more then likely they don’t know any of them, so they leave it blank. This is why education of the ballot by the media and city should be important.

The undervotes (non-votes)

Central, 826

At-Large A, 3,575

At-Large B, 4,467

One of the interesting things to watch will be how these 7 rubber stampers and mayor will run the city over the next 4 years. If crap hits the fan, they won’t be able to point at Brekke, Stehly or Starr, they will only have themselves to blame for their foolish mistakes. You will also see a completely closed government. We won’t know about many decisions made until it is over. Maybe in 2 years people will realize that the votes they placed yesterday were NOT such a good idea, but I am not holding my breath since the TenHaken administration has done virtually nothing the past 4 years except hand out money to his rich developer friends and getting rid of Stehly and public input. Crime has risen, the core has deteriorated more, homelessness and panhandling has increased, housing options are minimal and expensive, the job market is tight, property taxes and fees are going thru the roof, and the list goes on. The media of course didn’t bring any of this up.

Sioux Falls used to be cool. I have lived here for 30 years. About 7-10 years ago I noticed that live entertainment started to disappear. You used to be able to see at least 1-2 national or regional bands in Sioux Falls every week. Once we started to move away from this was because of the infiltration of the Lily white yuppies downtown and the construction of the Denty. Sioux Falls has transformed itself into a franchise fast food haven, family centric, rich retirees town that has no room for progressive ideas like a flourishing underground arts scene or numerous choices for live music in locally owned clubs. In some respects we have gone backwards.

As the Seattle grunge band, Mudhoney, once sang when that town was getting popular for it’s music scene, “Time for leaving is now.”


#1 ZTNLIQ on 04.13.22 at 5:22 pm

Kinda? Everyone you “endorsed” lost. Which is probably good since none of them will have to serve with the numbskulls that got elected. Maybe it was their lucky day?

#2 Very Stable Genius on 04.13.22 at 6:03 pm

Let me start by bragging (Sorry), haven’t I been calling our Mayor “Mr. 73%” for the last couple of months now, or a 73% chicken sandwich? Well, I got that one right and right on the money. 😉

One of the major and fascinating unprofessional things, however, that happened last night, was how the city’s election return numbers for the percentages that candidates were getting did not add up to 100, except for the mayor’s race and the amendments. If you added the total percentages for the candidates for council last night, as reported by the city website throughout the night, it always added up to around 78 to 85%, which then unbelievably generated the Argus and KELO to report that were would be run-off elections in those races. Can’t people add anymore? Can’t the city have someone notice this discrepancy? AND, why didn’t the media question this before they reported “Fake News”?…. Talk about not being ready for primetime, yet….

But what really happen last night? Well, first of all, it didn’t help that David sent out a mailer that looked like it had been written by Kaczynski, or that Taneeza, who is a true champion of human and civil rights, was apparently too afraid to use her last name. But what really happened is that winners, and people who think they are winners, voted for an image for mayor that made them feel good.

And because of this victory, Dusty and Kristi need to take notice.

Our Mayor, like Thune is a Karl Mundt, which means he will be around for quite a while, I am afraid, but unlike Mundt, but like Thune, he is an attractive and articulate politician, or better yet, a spokesman for the corporatists, who will continue business as usual, where the true problems of our time, many which were justly raised by Taneeza, will continue to be overlooked or passed off as crises that the market needs to solve itself. AND, it is this attitude that the market is the answer, that is actually code for less government is better. Well, unless the affluent can benefit from government, that is, which pretty much describes the attitude and make-up of most of our current city council and definitely our new city council, and sadly this market answer will never truly help the many losers of our society who think they are winners by voting for a winner.

I also think that the Mayor benefited by having opponents that were either unique, to be nice, or a candidate who was a part of a constituency from the left, but never seen as a full service candidate of the left. who credibly represented all sectors of the left agenda. AND, this latter contention is a big problem today for the left and the major reason Biden had to be the Democratic nominee in 2020 to beat Trump, because Biden was full service unlike most of his Democratic opponents.

So, as long we continue to be led on the left by members of a constituency and not caretakers of the overall picture of what it means to be a Democrat or left of center, then we will continue to lose to people like our Mayor who uses image, social media, and a chicken sandwich to entice the voters who think they are winning when they are not, while they still vote for a winner and big one at that.

Now, let me conclude by stating, that normally, I would call our Mayor either “ThuneHaken”, or my new one, which is “BradyHaken”, but after yesterday, maybe it should be Governor, Congressman, or senator. Except this time, I hope I am not as accurate as I was with my 73% prediction…. And can a chicken sandwich really be that good and for how long? …. As long as Mundt? 🙂

( and Woodstock adds: “Yep, you nailed it VSG, but didn’t you also think that David could break 12% if a donut maker could get 11% in ’12?”….. “Just saying”…. (“And I guess that anti-quotation boy won’t be going anywhere either, oh well”) 😉 )

#3 ZTNLIQ on 04.13.22 at 7:08 pm

You guys ever think that maybe most of the residents of Sioux Falls are happy with the way things are going? Wait, only 7% of the population voted for the winners. Does 7% qualify as most?

#4 Scott D Hudson on 04.13.22 at 7:30 pm

Skippy should have run this year.

#5 ZTNLIQ on 04.13.22 at 8:02 pm

Message received Scott. I’ll not post again. Come to think of it, I’ll not visit the blog at all. I will go back to watching Newsmax and reading the Old Testament.

#6 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 04.13.22 at 8:12 pm

Skippy, the Harold Stassen of Sioux Falls politics, should definitely make a comeback….. Plus, he could definitely help us with the Skippy shortage we are having right now…

#7 l3wis on 04.13.22 at 8:24 pm

Do you know why he is called Skippy? I do. Just answer yes or no. LOL.

#8 "Woodstock" on 04.13.22 at 8:57 pm

“‘Reading the Old Testament’?”….. “Are you one of those Christians whose a Jew, but doesn’t know it?”…. “I used to have a cousin like that”…. “He wasn’t religious, but he hated technology and had a Close Encounters of the Third Kind obsession with Lancaster County”…..

#9 Blasphemo on 04.13.22 at 8:58 pm

Somebody wins, somebody loses. That’s why elections are called a contest. But, I’m really discouraged by the overall outcome.

PTH winning was a given. No surprise there, but frankly L3wis, I was dismayed at your DZ endorsement – you’re brighter than that. I can understand a political statement vote, but that was a vote thrown away. DZ is beyond nuts & unqualified for elected office, and would NEVER win election. VSG is spot on that DZ’s mailer looked Kaczynski-esque as hell. With all the color highlighted words, it reminded me of some unsolicited, rambling end-timer multi page manifesto mass mailed to me some years ago. And DZ’s still inviting people to view his amateur zombie apocalypse video? Dear god. He’s a man-child living in a fantasy world, and his condescending Council Meeting remarks are routinely a waste of everyone’s time.

Ms. Islam – whether “cut from the same cloth” as PTH or not – ISN’T PTH. Transparency in government would not likely have been reduced by any opposing qualified & decently educated candidate (which excluded DZ), below what we’ll see in another PTH term.

Beyond that, Brekke’s loss – being the most qualified municipal government professional on that ballot for ANY office – is sickening. Yes, it was a crime your coverage of Sarah Cole’s voting record was ignored by other local media. Any voter with a brain knowing that info…would be certifiable to ignore that and still vote for her. Brekke’s campaign should probably have used that against her to reinforce Cole’s leadership/political inexperience.

The undervotes are astonishing. That represents a bunch of vacuous twits who only went to vote for that handsome daddy mayor they saw a TV ad for. Dim bulbs who can’t review candidate options for a ballot that short…& responsibly exercise their right to vote… ought to be exiled to a fine place like Crimea.

Lastly, I was disappointed in some polling place BS that I saw. My polling place (church) served 3 precincts, and it was not furnished with any maps by the City Clerk so voters could confirm their precinct when they arrived to vote. The poll workers/poll supervisor did a good job working around this confusion, but it’s a glaring oversight. Furthermore, for the first time I heard that one or more polling places dictated that campaign signs were forbidden on their property – the “100’ minimum from any poll entrance” rule be dammed. Does the presence of polling place campaign signs change any votes? Maybe not, but they’re part of the traditional campaign process. Campaign volunteers stay up late/get up early to participate in sign delivery for their candidates. Tough sh*t if churches have to pick up a couple of forgotten ones the next day. Who the hell are non-property tax paying church congregations to dictate only certain aspects of the democratic election process they’re willing to embrace? It’s long past time for church tax exempt status to be eliminated. They enjoy police protection for their property, municipal water & sewer service for their bathrooms, and paved city streets for their congregants to use to attend Sunday services and Wednesday night bible studies. They have plenty of tithes to send for overseas charity. It’s time for them to contribute property taxes to pay for city services.

#10 F&LiSF on 04.13.22 at 9:02 pm


#11 ACinSD on 04.14.22 at 8:55 am

Your thing against Taneeza has been weird, for this whole campaign. David Z was not a serious candidate and obviously should have dropped out.

I tend to agree with VSG. I’ve seen PTH voters talking about how they always hear about PTH being out at public events talking to people, how handsome he is, what a good dad he is, etc. And then there are the trolls who said they’d never vote for a Muslim for anything. It seems very few of the PTH voters were voting on the issues.

#12 l3wis on 04.14.22 at 9:38 am

What is weird is that Taneeza thought David was a threat. I felt it was unprofessional of her to do that. Her biggest obstacle wasn’t being a Muslim, it was being a woman. No woman has ever been elected mayor. The old boys club will never allow it. I think Taneeza should have run for school board.

#13 Mike Lee Zitterich on 04.14.22 at 10:04 am

I have had enough of the personal attacks. ANYONE abd everyone has the right to place themselves especially on the ballot for any reason win or lose or to stand up and be VOICE of the people. My good friend Bill Nees of Georgia places himself on the Presidential Ballot in 2008 just to prove you can abs he made on the ballot on 4 states (Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina).

Does not matter how many votes you get, what counts is you do it and stand up for what you believe in.

You don’t need to be elected to be a Statesman for tge people. You want to, everyobe should want to be an Advocate for rhe people in their neighborhood, their community, their city.

David Zokaitas has a following of people, who expect to see him at those public meetings, he has a passion for being voice on public, so do I, and so does Scott, and the same foe Sierra, abs many others.

Thjs new City Council Session of 2022-2024 is gonna be a historic one, it’s truly gonna set up the City for the next 50 years – the Ten Haken Administration is gonna have a chance to participate in 2 “Redisctricing Commissions” thanks to the 2020 Census, the mandate distrisxtering when the city gains 15% more in population which will occur between 2026-27, then again the 2030 Census is around the corner. It’s gonna ve an awesome ride.

We Re gonna need tons of Advocates willing to stand up and speak up, be part of the discussion, and be willing to host Town Halls

I already reached out to the Mayor hoping to bring Mt City Composition Concept to realize the districts as part if the mayors revitalization of the core areas.

Get Involved. Stand Up, Make Your Voice Heard, Put yourself on a future ballot. Win or Lose. It’s your right.

#14 Conservative Here on 04.14.22 at 10:55 am

I find this blog peculiar in its Anti-Christian bias and the fact you cannot admit it speaks volumes. Stating that people in “taupeville” don’t care about other people in other neighborhood is the most ignorant comment I have ever heard come out of your mouth. Local Churches all over the city, including mine are regularly in these neighborhoods doing work. We do it via outreach, mentoring programs, we provide food, places to live, rehabbing places for folks to live. My church does this extensively and many other churches in this town do as well I don’t know Rich at all, nor know anything about him but, your constant attack on Christians is so blatant. Doing good is its own reward and many Christians don’t post it all the time nor brag about it, its done in secret. I just know your talk all this smack about people being open, honest, and transparent, about who they are yet you refuse to just tell us you have a problem with Christian’s and move on. To put such a blanket statement on a whole group of people due to our Mayor or Rich saying they are Christians is stereotyping and wrong. I hate to break it to you but, these 2 dudes don’t speak for everybody.

If you truly want to see what some of us do and how we do it, reach out and we can partner up and I can show you. You can meet some people who do what they do and why they do it and I believe these types of people are the majority. There will always be people claiming to be Christians but, are not walking it. This is true of very bucket of people on this planet.

#15 Very Stable Genius on 04.14.22 at 11:27 am

Well, Taneeza and David were a threat to each other. Neither could win, if both were in it. Plus, Taneeza was far more conventional than David and a conventional candidate was never going to beat the Mayor regardless of sex, race, and faith involving the candidates. Only an unconventional candidate, like David, had a chance, but it was one chance in a billion, but then again, what are the chances of having three simultaneous tornadoes in one night in our town as well? 😉 #KnobeVersusSchirmer

( and Woodstock adds: “That’s right!”…. “Like David and Goliath!”…. (“We could have gotten volunteers to dress and act like zombies and then terrorize the citizenry…. that would have definitely helped his credibility”…. ))

#16 Further Fear & Loathing on 04.14.22 at 11:35 am

The real winner Tuesday night was the “Red Line”. I am afraid it’s here to stay. Maybe Councilman-elect Rick’s church can pray for no tornadoes, however. #JustTacoTuesday

#17 Very Stable Genius on 04.14.22 at 11:43 am


Yes, they are definitely in love with our Mayor. He’s still experiencing his incredible honeymoon phase with the voters; a phase that Pressler once had and Thune still has, but I think Thune’s is beginning to wane.

( and Woodstock adds: “What about Dusty?”… “Who doesn’t love Opie or Richie?”…. )

#18 rufusx on 04.14.22 at 11:48 am

Time for leaving was 1988. The same phenomena you are observing was happening then. Loss of live entertainment venues, suburbanite expansion, Death of downtown, inklings of the “resurgence” of the evangelicals (Dutchers moving in from NW IA – founding of the SF “Christian” schools), all of it. The late ’60s and the ’70’s were “cool”. ’80’s were barely hanging on. Again – Reagan, the worst president EVER in re: to policy effects on the typical American’s lives. the time to leave was 1988. I did.

#19 "Woodstock" on 04.14.22 at 1:04 pm

“That’s right, in the 1970s we had Charlie Johnson and all of his fun bars”… By 1988, a Gordon Gekko greed had taken over the city”… “But, I still find it amazing that a remnant of Studio One still exists, however”…. “But then again, it is near the City Center, isn’t it?”…. #HowConvenient

#20 ACinSD on 04.14.22 at 1:17 pm

You’re right that “left” candidates in city/school elections and Democrats in county/legislative/statewide elections need to figure out a new tactic to reach out to people because the old way hasn’t worked since Daschle and Johnson were around. Sioux Falls used to be the base that elected Democrats/left-of-center people up and down the ballot.

I supported Taneeza Islam because I thought she could potentially reach out to different groups of people who don’t usually vote in local elections, such as immigrants, LGBT people (who by and large hate the mayor), young people. Obviously she didn’t engage nearly enough of any group of voters, but at least she was trying something different.

I guess I don’t understand your standards of professionalism. The candidate you actually voted for showed up at the mayoral candidate forums acting like he was blazed out of his gourd, and sent out a confusing, rambling newsletter about various topics, many of which were unrelated to city government, on the weekend before the election as his only act of campaigning. One might say you held the woman candidate to a much higher standard.

#21 l3wis on 04.14.22 at 2:40 pm

Just because someone is a little odd doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to run. Taneeza is lucky there was only 2 opponents

#22 The Guy From Guernsey on 04.14.22 at 5:52 pm

AFA Sioux Falls as the base from which Democrats/left of center people have been elected over the course of history:
Sioux Falls and the surrounding area (particularly western Minnehaha County) is still the source of elected office-holders, left-of-center.

In the present day, they just register themselves as ‘Republican’ in order that they can get elected to state office and influence legislation and the flow of money in Republican-held legislative houses in Pierre. That and to be welcome in the social club which is republicanism in Sioux Falls and the immediate surrounding area (see also republican club of chamber of commerce cronyists).

A certain regional healthcare organization, coincidentally(?) which features Blue neon lights as part of its image, funnels lobbying dollars and influence through the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (hey, look at all these former Minnehaha County republicans who are/have been part of the government affairs efforts of each of these organizations!).

There was recently a nicely done op-ed article which documented the politically blue influence on the politics of the state by the government affairs executives of this Blue-hued healthcare provider and SDAHO (expansion of Medicare, anyone?). Look who was tasked to carry the water for Medicare expansion during the most recent legislative session – none other than a western Minnehaha County ‘republican’ in the final legislative session of his career (got no more reason for the masquerade as ‘-R, Wall Lake’).

Lastly, I do believe that Vermillion, Brookings and Brown County (as it was in the Daschle era) would like to have a word about your chacterization of Sioux Falls as the primary former epicenter of Blue politics in South Dakota.

#23 Fearing the Fuhrer & More on 04.16.22 at 1:27 pm

I remember when Brown was blue. I also remember when James Brown was cool, then the football player came along and screwed it all up. Kinda like Stephanie and ObamaCare, but that was not cool. No, instead, it was a dog, that they called blue, but appeared more red…. If you know what I mean.