While watching the online interview today between Sioux Falls Central District Council Candidates DeBoer and Soehl, Argus Leader Metro Guru Joe Sneve asked them what they thought about developer impact fees and specifically Sanford tearing out affordable housing in the core of our city.

Sanford has mentioned in the past that they would like to expand the 18th and Grange campus all the way towards Minnesota avenue. In that process they have bought several properties in that swath, which includes some of the most affordable housing in our city.

Soehl answered the question first and pretty much towed the tired old line that Sanford has done so many things for our city including employment opportunities (South Dakota has some of the lowest healthcare salaries in the nation) that we should be careful about stopping such expansion.

DeBoer had a different twist on the topic. Besides pointing out that Avera has decided to expand in an area that doesn’t require tearing down affordable housing, he says the Sanford expansion has been detrimental to affordable housing in the core of our city. He reminded listeners that these are some of the most affordable housing options in the city that help first time homebuyer pull themselves out of poverty and rental living. He also pointed out all the blacktop Sanford is putting down in these neighborhoods in the form of parking lots. While he admitted to the economic impact of Sanford, he also said they could expand elsewhere in our city without tearing down these houses.

Zach is right. Instead of Sanford giving several acres to the school district, they could use that land for expansion.

But Zach brings up a bigger point, why does the city, and particular the council and city hall always bow to the altar of Sanford. The Planning Department, the Planning Commission and the City Council could easily say NO to Sanford when they want to tear up more affordable housing in the core of our city, or impose heavy impact fee penalties to dissuade them from doing so.

We need more councilors like Zach, who are looking out for the best interest of the citizenry and not the bottom line of Sanford.

This wasn’t the first time Curt pulled a funny at a Forum (even though I think he was serious). At the Multi-Housing Forum he said he got rid of his rental property because renters are a ‘pain in the butt’.

Tonight at the Chamber forum (2nd Half of Forum) he decided to bag on the Argus and Facebook (several times) about how no one reads them anymore. Hey, who can blame him, we all know an Argus endorsement is a kiss of death, ask Daschle.

While I will defend Soehl that home deliveries of the dead tree version are way down, I’m guessing online readership is higher (especially when stories online show up almost 24-72 hours before they print).

As for Facebook, they can defend themselves, something they are busy at these days.

I got the feeling that in some weird way Curt was trying to defend the current council and mayor by killing the messenger.

I know that Curt wants to believe what his donors are telling him is the truth, but the corruption runs deep and it is real. As one other council candidate in the central district said tonight, Thor Bardon, unlike others running in this race he can’t be bought by donors.

I guess that would explain Curt’s Kool-Aid mustache. But you didn’t read it in the Argus.

You know what they say, follow the money.

While I have said we have good choices in central district candidates Bardon, DeBoer and Hurlbert I’m a bit wary of candidate Soehl after reading his financial report (FULL DOC:  Soehl-Finance )

It seems Mr. Soehl has a lot of big wheels behind him hoping they will get their corporate welfare rubber stamper on the city council to do their bidding.

Here’s a list of a few of his donors;

Cindy Huether (Mayor Huether’s wife)

Nathan Peterson (Sanford Health)

Lowell Hyland (Retired MD, Angel Investor)

Mark Wahlstrom (VP Business Development, First Dakota Title)

Dana Dykhouse (President of First Premier)

Scott Gullickson (VP at First Premier Bank)

Dave Sweet (Chairman of the Board, Ramkota Companies)

Nick Gustafson (Bender Commercial)

David Knutson (First Premier Bankcard)

Mike Crane (Developer)

Steve Erpenbach (Current Central District city councilor Michelle Erpenbach’s husband)

Michael Bender (Developer, Bender Commercial, chair of Jim Entenman’s mayoral campaign)

Dennis Breske (Commercial Realtor, NAI)

Craig Lloyd (Developer, Lloyd Companies)

The next financial report is due on April 5th (the Thursday before the Tuesday election). Hopefully all the candidate reports will be filed online by the end of the day Friday so voters have a chance to ‘follow the money’ before the election on Tuesday.

The city council races are starting to come together, but there are still some unknowns and variables.

Currently the Central District has three running in the race. I won’t rule out that more could get in that race, but probably unlikely.

Retired Firefighter and Insurance Salesman, Curt Soehl. I don’t know a whole lot about Curt, but what I have read on his FB page is that he was very pro-Huether and approved of his accomplishments and leadership style, which is unfortunate.

Thor Bardon. I believe Thor works in banking. Thor’s platform is workforce development and other social issues in our community.

Local art promoter and business owner, Zach DeBoer. Zach is heavily involved with the downtown culture and development.

At-Large has 3 candidates, but that could change.

John Paulson, former Sanford Executive and Planning Commission member who lost to Theresa Stehly in the last election will probably run the same ‘everything is wonderful and great in Sioux Falls’ campaign.

Janet Brekke, who is a former city attorney and currently a private attorney is challenging Paulson. I don’t know a lot about Janet, but I think we will learn more in the coming weeks since she has formerly announced.

Clara Hart has said she will run in the At-Large, but she could just as easily challenge Rick Kiley to get out of a crowded At-Large race (which may get more crowded). Clara lives in his SE district and may have a better chance in a two person race, and avoid a run-off.

As I said, Kiley has announced he will run for a 2nd term and has no challengers currently, I hope that changes.

Erickson hasn’t announced whether she is running for a 2nd term or not, she has said she will probably NOT run for mayor. But currently if Erickson did announce, she doesn’t have a challenger. I’m wondering if someone is waiting in the wings until Erickson announces. One of the bigger questions I have been asked over the past couple of weeks has been, “Will Erickson run for a 2nd term to begin with or is she busy trying to recruit someone to run for the seat?”

As you can see, we have about 5-1/2 months until the city election and the council races are still shaping up. Anything could change at this point.