Sioux Falls Mayoral Candidates debate issues facing the city

Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The 2022 Mayoral Candidates debated the issues facing Sioux Falls Monday night.

David Zokaites, Taneeza Islam, and Mayor Paul TenHaken took the stage at the Washington Pavilion before a live audience and discussed diversity, the economy, crime, quality of life, and the pandemic... among other topics.

Incumbent Mayor Paul TenHaken touted his first four years in office as a springboard into the next four should he be re-elected.

“You spend the first four years setting up the chessboard, building relationships, putting initiatives in play, and the next four years is really when you get to see the benefits of that,” TenHaken said.

His challengers Taneeza Islam and David Zokaites pointed out areas they think they could improve if they win the people’s vote.

“We are on the cusp of building a city segregated, marginalized, and unsafe,” Islam said.

Zokaites says he is running on a platform of transparency.

“If we’re honest and open, and caring, we can solve all kinds of issues, because the city has tremendous resources available,” Zokaites said.

But, perhaps just as important as the topics being discussed is the community’s civic engagement.

It was a full house inside the Pavilion’s Belbas Theatre for the mayoral debate, as folks turned out to hear what all three candidates had to say about why they are the best choice to lead the city of Sioux Falls into the future.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert, who was in attendance, was pleased to see the turnout.

“To see such a diverse crowd and young people, people are who are engaged and excited, maybe for the first time, is really great to see,” Neitzert said.

Among the crowd were three young Sioux Falls voters, Rachida (19), Camryn (21), and Mohamed (19).

“I think tonight’s discourse was very refreshing, considering everything the United States has gone through in the last couple of years,” Rachida said. “I think it stood out that all these candidates do care about Sioux Falls and do wish to see changes surrounding low-income housing, specifically affordable housing, and all these other issues.”

All three will be voting in their first mayoral race.

“I think it’s incredibly important to be an informed voter,” Camryn said when asked why she attended the debate.

Mohamed had a similar response to the same question.

“It’s important to know who your candidates are and what their policies are, so it was a great time to come in and see what they stood for,” Mohamed said.

The debate is a precursor to who will lead the city for the next four years.

“It’s great to see three candidates who really care about the city, they’re running for the right reasons, and to see the involvement, we don’t see that in every campaign locally, so to see three candidates who really care is really awesome,” Neitzert said.

The Sioux Falls city election is on April 12th. Absentee voting has already begun and goes through April 11th. Voters can cast their ballot early at the Minnehaha County Administration building.

To view the debate in its entirety, click here.

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