Mayor Paul TenHaken fights back against group petitioning to change Sioux Falls government

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - A Sioux Falls group wants to make changes to the Sioux Falls Charter.

One portion calls for the mayor to be taken off the city council and removes his tie-breaking vote.

Any vote ending in a tie would fail.

Another item would turn city council elections into a simple plurality.

A third measure would require a 2/3 majority to pass any bond measure, meaning at least six of the eight council members would need to vote in favor.

It also calls for city council to develop a strategic plan.

Sioux Falls Mayor, Paul TenHaken, isn't on board with the proposed changes.

"I think the city of Sioux Falls works, our economy works, our city is growing, we're getting things done, we're ranked a best city for entrepreneurs, small businesses, AARP has made us an age-friendly city... that's because we have a form of government that works," Mayor TenHaken said.

The mayor also says the petition may be an overreaction to the past.

"I think it's a bad precedent to set, say hey, I don't like how project went here and I don't like how a vote went here, so we need to change the form of government that we have in Sioux Falls," TenHaken said.

Joe Kirby, who helped write the original revisions to the Sioux Falls Charter, has proposed similar ideas to those in this petition.

"One of the goals of our changes is to force the city council to work together better. For the last 25 years there has been a lot of bickering, there's been factions of the city council. We'd like to see some of that go away and have them work better with each other," Kirby said.

Although Kirby approves of those in power, he says there is room for improvement.

"We designed the system that's in place 25 years ago and we don't think we got it perfect. We think we did a really good job, we've had a lot of success as a community, so it's not really broken, but that doesn't mean it can't be a little better," Kirby said.

Kirby doesn't know if a petition is the right course of action though.

"Seems like impatience to me, I'd rather see how the process works with the Charter Revision Commission. If they don't consider the changes that the group wants then maybe they can do their petition later on," Kirby said.

Mayor TenHaken wants people to make sure they are informed about the situation.

"I think people need to be educated on what they are signing and what they are potentially bringing forward to a public vote," TenHaken said.