Mayor TenHanken’s Latest Interview

I guess I missed this interview from a couple of days ago;

In the past four years, his city department head leadership team has changed considerably. There are new police and fire chiefs, new faces leading public health, planning and innovation. He has a new finance director and city attorney.

“So I spent four years building that team, and now for the next four years, we’ve got the team together, and I think we can do a lot.”

He has really spent the past four years dealing with a revolving door. Many people he chose after being elected to his first term have left. He has had to appoint a new city attorney, a new planning director, a new health director and police chief. He has also had to appoint 2 different Fire Chiefs. He is on his 2nd IT and technology director. He has also lost a deputy chief of staff, a housing director and his chief cultural officer. I am unclear what he means by building a team?

Often times whether it is in the private sector or public sector many times directors and department heads leave an organization because of (lack of) leadership. Sure, retirements do occur, but with this much turnover in just 4 years you have to question the relationship he has with his city directors? This may explain why his administration is so busy fiddling with the legislative process instead of running the city (his duties under the charter).

“Everyone wants to know what are we doing about housing, and I can tell you it’s just so challenging right now, with land costs and with attitudes about infill development,” TenHaken said. “If we can move two or three houses or create small programs to give developers a little bit of cost savings, we’re just hitting singles. There’s no home runs to be found.”

That’s because the housing crisis will not be solved in Sioux Falls until we solve the wage problem. We also can’t be constantly cramming affordable housing into certain neighborhoods, it has to be spread throughout the community. I know it is NOT an easy thing to fix overnight, but what groundwork has been laid over the past 10-15 years or even past 4 years on this issue? I will continue to cross my fingers that the city will implement real programs to fix up our core, build density and create more housing, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in this current city government makeup that they have any long term solutions.

There also will be a project to complement the downtown parking ramp on the north side of 10th Street east of Phillips Avenue, TenHaken said.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “We’re going to soon be announcing the timeline and process for interested parties to begin expressing interest in the site, so I think it will be good in the second term to get that underway.”

So the ink has barely dried on the check we sent to the defunk developer of the Bunker Ramp and we are already going to send out an RFP on what to do with the site? Which says to me, someone has already pitched the city an idea (we can make our guesses who this developer will be). Not sure what you could do with the site, but I have often suggested a multiple story studio apartment building.

Trying to solve the issue of child care is a bit like tackling housing, he said.

“There’s no silver bullet solution, but the discussions we’re having and the work and partnership we’re forming with the school district is something that’s never been done in the city before … kids and families is something we’re going to lay overtop of almost every decision we’re making.”

I often shake my head when community leaders across the country think they have some simple, unique solution to fixing the child care issues in their communities. Two things that could drastically change that situation in Sioux Falls would be higher wages and Federally funding for Pre-K education. Government is NOT always the solution, but in this situation non-profits, churches and private schools can’t solve this by themselves, there needs to be a government safety net for the kids that fall thru those cracks. So what is standing in our way? Partisanship, which brings us to his final thoughts;

“I think the next political cycle is going to be very ugly, so how do I as a mayor try to maintain a spirit of unity and a One Sioux Falls mindset when national news and all these forces tell us there are constant things we need to fight about, and that’s why (I focus) on the 95 percent of where we’re alike to keep moving forward.”

He is correct, politics have become ugly and getting worse. Why? Because Republicans like TenHaken have made local traditionally non-partisan politics into partisan. Everything has become about one-party rule, even on a supposed non-partisan branch of government like city council. I saw this rear its head during TenHaken’s first campaign, it got worse in ousting councilor Stehly and recently Brekke. It has become an all out death match to the end. And I’m not talking about a difference between Republican or Democratic philosophies, those are easy to break down. It is a devision between the elite, authoritarian Republicans and the traditional fiscal conservative Republicans and social conscious Democrats. The authoritarians like Noem and TenHaken are in charge and they will do anything in their power to squash a dissenting view on how to tackle an issue. Solutions come from bringing every view to the table. This is why they had to eliminate Theresa and Janet, they asked too many questions, and you never question the King.

I would like to think that things will be different in Sioux Falls in next 2-4 years, but with cruise control government, a lack of transparency, a rubber stamp council and very little planning or vision, I think we will still be talking about the same challenges in the Spring of 2026, just more exacerbated.


It is such an honor to be elected to this seat on the City Council. I always encourage my kids about being the change that we want to see in the world. There are things that happen in our world that we have no control over, but we can control ourselves and our response to those issues. 

Yeah, it’s called voting in local elections. I still find it incredibly ironic and hypocritical that the first vote Cole cast in a Sioux Falls city election was a vote for herself 🙂 and the media has yet to touch that with a ten foot pole. Her absence in participating in local elections tells us all we will need to know about what her performance will be on the city council. Thank goodness the Mayor already setup a team of fellow rubber stampers for her so she doesn’t have to fart around for 4 years setting up that groundwork.


#1 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 05.21.22 at 10:52 am

I am still waiting for the leadership teams he promised in ’18. Maybe the rubber-stamp council is that team, I don’t know. But shouldn’t there be more than one, because that’s what he promised.

No doubt the elitist Republicans, better known as the Taupesters, are running this town and state. It’s a corporatist reality, or better yet a warped form of communism without a standing army. Because like the commies, they have a rubber-stamp legislature (Supreme Soviet), a clique of corporate friends and developers (the Politburo), and they wish to control all of the resources and means of production for their own benefit. Taupeville (Chippendale) is their land of dachas, while Soviet apartment style housing is the future for the rest of us. And land reform means, let the developers have it. But then they do claim liberty for all, but that is merely a slogan to indoctrinate and keep the little people (the workers, the proletariats) at bay.

#2 "Woodstock" on 05.21.22 at 10:57 am

“Maybe 13 squad cars at a gas station is their standing army”… “And don’t forget about the fundamentalists, because they’re always ready to go like madsters in a crusade”….

#3 Further Fear & Loathing on 05.21.22 at 1:14 pm

The Russkies may no longer have McDonalds (What about McDowells?), but at least the Mexican Pizza is back at Taco Bell for us. But do I thank Biden or our Mayor? …. (Because he did bring the Chick-fil-A drive-thru to town and that must have taken some team work… ) …

#4 Erica on 05.22.22 at 1:06 pm

I am confused why you seem to think that the Govt (At any level) is possible of solving the very problems it creates. The role of the Govt isnt to demand what wage an employer must set for an employee, or what home prices should cost, etc. The reality is that the REGULATIONS and LAWS that the Govt has set in place is what is IMPACTING employers from paying the GOOD employees well (cost of running a business such as taxes eat up profits causing owners to limit number of employees and/or pay) as well as the cost of homes (regulations and taxes that affect cost to build home raise the price to sell the home).

GOVT IS THE PROBLEM! Never the solution. Govt has become FAR too big and far too many of you STILL think it isn’t large (doing) enough. *smh*

#5 D@ily Spin on 05.22.22 at 3:17 pm

Lots of double talk. He was re-elected. Now what? He’ll be remembered as the Chic-Fil-A mayor.

#6 Fearing the Fuhrer & More on 05.22.22 at 4:25 pm

Would that be a Chippendale ‘”Chic”-Fil-A mayor’?

#7 Sick of Fearing on 05.22.22 at 5:23 pm

Why do people fear big government more than big business? Unless your are a significant stockholder, you can’t even be instrumental in electing a leader of a big business.

#8 D@ily Spin on 05.23.22 at 5:20 pm

City hall is certainly not big government. One would think the corruption and fraud could be cleaned up. Big business in the form of local oligarchs control the city. There must be change but the courts and higher government look the other way. The charter is unconstitutional and serves to keep feudal control. At some point citizens must petition and vote to replace the charter.

#9 Conservative Here on 05.24.22 at 8:39 am

Sick of Fearing – I actually fear both and as you can see Big Corporations are now Big Govt because they have gotten/paid govt to do their bidding on many fronts. I see them as one in the same anymore. Look at the vaccine mandates so many companies did. The govt could not get it enacted on all fronts (did on some) so the Business sector took up where the Govt couldn’t get it done and a lot of people lost jobs because they didn’t want to get it.

In many states the Govt allowed Home Depot and Walmart to be open (essential business) yet the same types of stores that were mom and pops stores were forced to close. The difference is Home Depots of the world had enough money to pay off the politicians.

This has all STARTED with the fact we have allowed Govt to control so many aspects of our lives that the Corporations are now using it against us.

No matter how you slice and dice it, we have allowed a very small group of people in this country to control everything and the more they both grow the less pull we have. Our choices come down to which one sucks the less and those are not good choices.

#10 SoF on 05.24.22 at 12:58 pm

“This has all STARTED with the fact we have allowed Govt to control so many aspects of our lives that the Corporations are now using it against us”….

I disagree. Long before FDR, the New Deal, and bigger government in general, we had the Gilded Age of trusts and barons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that controlled government.

There seems to be a cycle to all of this, but I’m always amazed how often the little people do not fear corporate American the way they claim to fear big government. Perhaps, it’s because often corporate America is their paycheck and they thus pay homage and fear to that crowd.

#11 The Guy From Guernsey on 05.25.22 at 9:10 am

“The paycheck” is a fantastic analogy.

Also the reason why South Dakota politics is shifting Blue (regardless of party registration). More and more are realizing “Big Government” as the source of their paycheck; providing homage and advocating for more of that which provides their paycheck. Big(ger) Government.

More and more of those in the ruling political class in this state have realized the paycheck which is available from the employer known as “Big Government”.

Bigger federal government.
It all started with transitioning farm support programs from those of direct payment to farmers toward programs which subsidize the involvement of ‘private commerce’ in the transaction. (Looking at you, federal crop insurance program, the fore-runner of Obamacare).

Bigger state government.

Bigger City government.
No paycheck in South Dakota easier to gain from a government body. Look at the campaign finance reports for the Mayor and City Council campaigns.

The historical account of the transition of South Dakota politics with reflect that “Blue started in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County”.

#12 The Guy From Guernsey on 05.25.22 at 9:20 am

Big Government. And the paycheck enabled by Big Government.

Else why would the chairman of the SD republican Social Club be stumping the region for a pipeline TO North Dakota?

South Dakota politics.
Beginning to smell a lot like an Iowa Democrat.
I wonder why?

#13 SoF on 05.25.22 at 1:47 pm

You speak of the paycheck of the wealthy. I speak of the paycheck of the average person and how it dictates their politics, or at least their public politics.

Regardless of how big business is payed, it’s the reality of the institution itself which we should fear, but few seem to.

The relationship of big business to big government is a discussion in itself, but it’s the reality of big business itself that is undemocratic and should be seen as a necessary evil at best, well, at times.

#14 "Woodstock" on 05.25.22 at 1:48 pm

“I’m just glad, myself, that big business brought back the Mexican Pizza”….

#15 SoF on 05.25.22 at 1:55 pm

I might also add, that regardless of how big business funds itself today. It has always found ways to fund itself through government long before Keynesian economics, social programs, and the mentality that government might be the answer from the 1930s forward.

#16 Conservative Here on 05.26.22 at 9:29 am

Woodstock – I cannot eat Taco Bell anymore because it makes me head somewhere besides the border but, bringing back the Mexican Pizza almost makes me want to go now, it was my favorite. See once in awhile they DO some good in the world and this is one. LOL

#17 "Woodstock" on 05.27.22 at 12:49 pm

“Well, they also say you aren’t suppose to drink their water either”… (“No wonder they all drink Tequila down there”…. (…”Worm or not”….))… “

#18 Fear Not! on 05.27.22 at 1:04 pm

I thought it was Hartford water we weren’t suppose to touch? #TheSulfurTouch