Challenger Natalie Stites Means & Mayor Steve Allender answer questions from the audience at a recent forum in Rapid City hosted by The Rapid City Chamber, The North Rapid Civic Association, The Black Hills Works A Team, Homeslice Media Group & Western Dakota Tech.
There is a growing number of people in the Rapid City area that are concerned with the addition of gender identity into the policies of Western Dakota Tech. On September 17 the Rapid City School Board voted 4-3 to add gender identity into the list of classes mentioned in policy #2005. Although the motive was understandable, the unintended consequences could be harmful.
A number of local Church-based Culture Impact Teams are concerned about the passage of this policy, and are committed to respectfully asking for the policy to be changed back. If you are interested in making your voice heard on this issue, you can still sign the petition we created and the public is always welcome to attend the school board meetings. Click here for the School Board Schedule, attend any or all of them! We are not asking for a large number of presenters at each meeting, but rather a large group of people, with one person simply expressing the concern of the group.
On September 17, the Rapid City School Board voted on changes to the Western Dakota Tech Discrimination and Harassment policies. Among the changes is the addition of “gender identity” to the list of protected classes. Although we would never agree to the victimization or exploitation of any student, adding gender identity to the list of protected classes is a dangerous idea.
We still need your help!
First – Sign the Petition. Click Here
Second – Come to the School Board meeting September 17, 5:30pm, Western Dakota Tech Pennington County Room, Rapid City, SD.
A few weeks ago, Ed Randazzo published an article discussing a billboard that we spotted in Rapid City. Now, there are three such billboards that we have spotted. (See updates at bottom of page). We know they are sponsored by a foundation in Colorado, but what message are they spreading? What are they calling for? If you visit the website noted on the billboard and navigate to the South Dakota page, you will see the assertion that South Dakota is legally discriminating against members of the LGBT community. They give links to “fact-finding” pages, as well as the personal story of Crystal and Amanda. The article claims that Crystal was fired by an anti-LGBT boss, which caused great financial hardship. It never says that Crystal and Amanda are from South Dakota, but it makes the claim that a similar situation could easily arise here and that we need legal protections to prevent it. This request sounds quite reasonable and compassionate at first glance. Should someone be fired, or denied housing, or denied healthcare because of who they choose to be in a relationship with? Or because they identify as a gender other than their birth sex? The reaction of most people would be “No, that sounds really mean! We should protect against that.” And you’re right, we shouldn’t be mean. However, the solution they offer is to add Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) to the list of legally protected classes (race, sex, religion, etc.) and here is the problem…
SOGI ordinances and laws that are presented as protective shields, often become swords used against those of a Biblical worldview. The most prominent example is that of Jack Phillips (click here to watch his story). Jack was simply living out his faith in his business, when someone used SOGI protections against him. The same is true for Baronnelle Stutzman in Washington. And Blaine Adamson in Colorado. And the list goes on…
Although we believe that we as Christians should show love towards those in the LGBT community and would never advocate for anyone to target them, placing sexual orientation and gender identity in the protected class list is not the right step. What is presented as a shield, will someday be used as a sword.
So what’s next? It’s yet to be seen. The BeyondIDo website doesn’t say what specific policy changes they will seek, nor does it tell us if they will be seeking state or local changes. But we do know this: once the proposals surface, we will need your help to spread the message of truth about these dangerous changes. Stay tuned, and let us know if you see a similar billboard in your community!
UPDATE: There are currently 5 Billboards in Rapid City, 1 in Sturgis, & 1 in Ft. Pierre
Recently, we have noticed a billboard in Rapid City that seems innocuous enough at first. But when you visit the website noted it is clear that its purpose is to promote LGBT individuals as a legal protected class in South Dakota.
It showcases a LGBT couple, Crystal and Amanda, who claim to have been the victims of discrimination because Crystal is male but has “transitioned” to female. The website seeks to influence states to enact laws making LGBT individuals a protected class. It is quite possible that effort may be forthcoming in South Dakota, promoted by organizations and interests outside South Dakota, to enact “sexual orientation or gender identity” (SOGI) laws which would then include LGBT individuals as a protected class.
These laws create new rights based on sexual behavior and identity, placing those rights at the same level as other freedoms, such as speech, religion and association. This inevitably leads to conflict with those who hold a Biblical view of sexuality that will increasingly find their voices marginalized and eventually banned from the public square.
During the hearings for HB1073 and SB198 this last legislative session, it was mentioned several times that the policy fixes being discussed should be taken care of at a more local level. Namely, the Board of Regents policies and several of the South Dakota University policies. Thursday was the first significant step towards that goal. Near the end of the committee hearing on SB198 Senator Soholt explained that she would be voting against the bill, but that the Board of Regents needed to take a serious look at the policies and practices of our universities. Senator Bolin made similar remarks, explaining that in South Dakota we are in the habit of letting local control work the problems out.
The free-speech hearing was added into a two-day board meeting by the Regents on the campus of South Dakota State University. They gave opportunity for testimony from University faculty, students as well as national experts. The overall flavor of the hearing: let’s tweak what we have and get it right. The Chicago Statement was mentioned by several of those giving testimony, as well as several board members as a good standard to glean from. One concept outlined in the statement that was discussed throughout the hearing is that the proper response to a message someone deems offensive or even abhorrent is more speech, not censorship.
Blake Meadows with Alliance Defending Freedom outlined 5 common miss-steps they have seen by universities: Misunderstanding who qualifies as a State actor, granting too much power to administrators, vague or unconstitutional policies, speech zones and limiting equal access or expressive association. Tyler Coward with The F.I.R.E. recommended ensuring that all university harassment policies are in line with Davis v. Monroe.
A few other key points made during the hearing:
-Many messages are controversial, but the right to express them must be protected if we value free-speech.
-Controversial speakers and events may result in the need for significant security costs. It was expressed that charging the student groups or the speaker an extra security fee because of this fact may be a barrier to that groups right to present their message.
-Universities in South Dakota aren’t significantly hampering free speech on their campuses, but they are modifying the definition of it and have policies that may prove unconstitutional.
-It is not the role of a University to shield students from views or messages.
-Security fees should be charged based off a viewpoint-neutral standard, and allowing campus and local police the ability to act will often times reduce the potential for a problem.
-Actions that cause damage are illegal, but words, no matter how offensive, are not actions.
-We should not wait until we have a significant event that outlines problematic policies, we should fix them beforehand.
-Including an explanation of free-speech rights in student orientation may be a low-cost way to increase understanding on the issue.
The next step is for the Board to examine their policies and compile possible fixes. They expressed a desire to send the verbiage changes to the major stakeholders for input/advice before they finalize the new policies.
Enthusiasm and energy was high at Paul’s results party as supporters watched the results come in. First came the absentee ballot report showing approximately a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio in Paul’s favor, giving supporters early encouragement; then the precincts started reporting with a consistent 59% to 63% favor resulting in a final 63% victory. FHA Action congratulates Paul TenHaken as the next Mayor of Sioux Falls.
As I surveyed the room of supporters, I was praising God for all the hard working faithful people who put their values to work by praying, calling citizens, knocking on doors, sending emails, Facebook posts, putting up signage and then finalizing their convictions at the polls. It’s a beautiful sight to see conservatives and the faith-based communities come together and make their voices heard, for it is righteousness that exalts a nation. I also want to give a big thank you to pastors across the city that encouraged their church members to get out and vote.
Sioux Falls also made history with this year’s mayoral election. The local news reported after the primary in April that Sioux Falls has never elected a mayor who came in first in the primary. Thanks to all for getting out to vote!
Let us all resolve to continue to pray for and support Paul as he leads the City of Sioux Falls. This is just the first battle. I’m sure their will be more challenges ahead.
CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN, PAUL!
Recently LaVonne Fosness with FHA Action along with input from our constituents, sent six questions to the six candidates running for mayor of Sioux Falls. The questions covered topics ranging from their personal beliefs, the biggest issues they plan to address, drugs, crime, free speech, and more. Here are the answers we received from the candidates:
Note: Jim Entenman and Jolene Loetscher gave no response.
Note: Of the four candidates that responded, the order they are listed was chosen at random.
1. Are you a person of faith? If so, how do you see your faith affecting your decision making and leadership of Sioux Falls?
Paul TenHaken: Throughout my personal and professional career, my faith has been the primary driver in my decision making. In fact, my faith and feeling called to serve is the primary reason why I am running to be the mayor of Sioux Falls.
Mike Gunn: I am a person of faith however, I do not push my faith onto anyone else that may have different beliefs. My faith controls all aspects of my life in general and by that I mean; I treat others as how I would want to be treated. I believe that every individual deserves respect and compassion. I also believe that our Constitution was written by Men of Faith and God was an important part of its making. Therefore, I will not allow any part of my leadership to harm the Freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. Nor will any decisions be made without complete well informed knowledge to those whom I serve. I believe that our Government today has forgotten the simple idea of what serving means? We are not your parents rather, we are your servants and should be compelled by the needs of those we serve which includes all classes of Citizens in an equal and fair manner for all.
Greg Jamison: I’m a person of deep personal faith. As a Christian, we are called to a walk with Christ. Of course, our faith is a personal decision. Not all people are born into a Christian home or have heard the Good News. That means, people won’t always have the same view as me regarding their personal spirituality.
I have always thought being a witness was a part of Christian life. I’ve chosen to live my life in a way people will know I’m committed to serving God by serving others. Being a living example of my faith is the best way I can let the Holy Spirit work through me.
My work as our new Mayor will be guided by the strong moral and spiritual foundation my parents taught me and my eight brothers and sisters. I will not be influenced by those with hidden agendas or ulterior motives.
2. Candidates for office normally decide to run for office because they are dissatisfied with an issue or issues or they have a desire to promote a specific issue. What issue(s) caused you to run for Mayor of Sioux Falls?
Paul TenHaken: I have a desire to serve the people of Sioux Falls. It’s a calling that for the past several years, I tried to ignore and ultimately decided it was something I needed to pursue. Of all the issues facing our city right now, I see the need for a leader who can unite the community and city leadership again.
Mike Gunn: Our City Government would rather penalize hard working Citizens than enforce those who intentionally commit serious crimes. I see a need to deregulate ordinances or codes now on the books to restrict hard working citizens from any ability to live free. This stems from control of your own property to if you can work where you live, to what you can say at city events. Peoples voices are silenced and heard today and that is in complete reverse of how things were meant to be. The City today speaks as if they are a separate entity from the Taxpayer. Too me that is not only wrong but it is against every Citizens rights. The truth is that the City or any other Government entity is a caretaker for what we the people all own. In reality the Government owns nothing. “We the People” do.
Greg Jamison: I’m running to be our new Mayor because I believe in serving others. And I’m the most qualified person to lead Sioux Falls into the future. As an eight-year City Councilman, and District 12 State Representative, it has been my honor to help people resolve problems and serve them. Anyone can dream of being a Mayor, but knowing how to run a city, fix the streets, protect our families and grow our economy is much different than one would expect. I know how to keep government small and make it work for taxpayers like you.
As for issues, I’m not a special interest candidate and do not run on a personal issues agenda. I run because I’m the most qualified person to lead Sioux Falls. The issues I’ll promote are fixing our streets, protecting our families and brining new and better jobs to Sioux Falls plus carefully spending taxpayer dollars.
Kenny Anderson: To give back to a community that has given so much to my family. My grandparents moved to Sioux Falls in 1928 and raised 8 children here. My father and mother raised myself and my 4 sister’s here. All of my family were educated in public schools and attended Washington High School. My father was a city commissar from 1987-1990. After being reelected in 1990 he passed during a commission meeting from a stroke. Later the city named a park and the 1st city community center after him.
3. Drugs and crime tear apart families. What specific steps would you take to reduce drugs and crime in Sioux Falls?
Paul TenHaken: Currently, I am the only candidate to have written and published a plan for the next eight years of our city and the issues I think will be most important to the health of Sioux Falls. This plan can be found at https://www.tenhakenformayor.com/2026-plan In this plan, you will notice that battling crime and narcotics growth is initiative #1, and it is there for a reason. I have seen the trickle down impact of our narcotics problem on our crime rate, growth in poverty, the impact on kids, the strain on our workforce, and more. In my plan, I specifically mention the following:
- Increased training resources for officers, which are currently underfunded
- Additional drug and fugitive task force agents to collaborate with the county and state
- Recommitting prevention education dollars to our schools which have been dropped
- Examining opportunities for stronger treatment options to end cyclical addiction
- Working closely with our state and federal delegation to get more DEA agents for South Dakota (currently SD is under-resourced with only two DEA agents).
Obviously these are just a start to what I hope to implement, but these items do have the potential to have significant impact for both the short and long-term issues we are facing with crime and narcotics growth.
Mike Gunn: More laws will not stop something that is actually not wanted to stop. I say this on the fact we have been fighting the very problem all over the United States for years and to date how much has been reduced? In many ways it is a lost concept but is very crucial today on why drugs and crime are so normal. So many factors are connected that create the same outcome. If one thinks on how most of us deal with despair, boredom, pain, loss, fear, depression etc. It would blow the mind. While our Government on all levels says it cares, this is not obvious to most Citizens. They have little to no willingness to help those trying to better themselves however, they will penalize them for trying. This is called you make too much for the assistance rule. Now I ask where does the despair, depression or other reasons for drugs or crime grow from? You may consider me cruel and unsympathetic yet, I believe that Citizens should get a “hand-up” not a “handout”. So in many ways by actually being there for those struggling a Mayor and Council can give hope and a chance at something better by actually helping those trying. To have the ability to dream the dream and see a chance at real freedom and self sufficiency that most want. Families are not torn apart just because of drugs/crime; moreover financial burden is the most invasive and creates the want for escape. That can mean divorce, drugs, alcohol or crime etc. That would be a good start. Now in becoming more involved in helping those trying by a hand-up approach I would also hope that those getting the help would also get involved as well. For instance: Cats are the Citizens and Rats are the crime. One cat can cover a lot of ground to fight off crime if allowed, but if restrained it is ineffective. One cat can detour crime for a time but needs more cats involved to effectively counter crime. Since crime cannot exist unless it is undetected. Bear with me! Today most families are too busy trying to survive to worry about what is going on around them and with good reason. They feel they do not matter and no one cares! So it is work home and a few errands at most. But they in most cases today have no idea who their neighbor is or even their names. They have no idea what is going on in their own backyard. So by most of what I have projected above with the ability to dream and achieve a better life they hopefully will want to get involved just to protect that they are striving for.
Last but not least; we need to encourage a family unit to stay unified, today government promotes divorce and even welcomes it on a daily basis. As Mayor with the Council I believe that we can allow the ability for a Married couple to work threw the normal differences that we all share by offering not only cost effective counseling but the freedom again that they were promised. Crime in many instances brings one aspect that is a common denominator and that is money. That can be spent on all sorts of things from bills to drugs. Not to say rape is not an issue, however, I believe that can be from a sense of no freedom or hope as well. To feel powerless some may see rape as being in power over something and in-turn use that as a copping mechanism? I could go on but I hope you get the gist of my platform on this question?
Greg Jamison: When I ran for Mayor four years ago, I campaigned on crime stating it was the most important issue we faced as a city, but very few people listened. Since then, the numbers have steadily increased year until this past year. In August, I started out my campaign talking about two things: roads and crime. And, I’m still talking about them today. In fact, I’m the only candidate in the race who’s said crime was one of the top two issues since the campaign started.
National crime studies say if we don’t get crime under control before our population grows to over 200,000 we’ll struggle to ever catch up. If we don’t act now, Sioux Falls will change forever. Now is the time to address crime and stop pretending crime is not a problem.
Sioux Falls has become a hideout for criminals from larger cities like Chicago and Detroit. These criminals are Meth and Heroin dealers in the middle of a price war looking to gain users. They set up shop in our own neighborhoods here in Sioux Falls while they’re on the run. The result is cheap drugs and lots of addicted people who commit crimes to fuel their addictions.
Meth and Heroin are at the core of the violent crimes on the rise here in Sioux Falls.
During my first 100 days in office, I’ll lead the fight against Meth and Heroin on three specific fronts: Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement.
Prevention: I’ve already met with the Sioux Falls School District Assistant Superintendent looking for ways to improve Drug Prevention education. It’s with their recommendation I’ll restore resources to re-implement the I-CAN program. The I-CAN program is designed to help students lead productive successful lives. I-CAN was taught in the Sioux Falls’ fifth grades several years ago by the School Resource Officers. The program’s focus was on healthy decisions regarding drugs, alcohol and peer pressure. Students received an hour of instruction each week for six weeks. The “I-CAN” program name was a statement to empower students; I can….resist drugs, I can…resist alcohol, I can…resist peer pressure.
Treatment: I’ll work to bring the Sioux Falls Social Services providers and State Agencies together and find additional ways to increase funding for drug addiction treatment. My administration will collaborate with national foundations and acquire grants to combat addiction on the personal level.
Enforcement: I’ll put new patrol officers on the streets and create a new special crimes unit to capture the top 10 most wanted felons. I’ll get tough on drug dealers – sending them back to where they came from or to jail for a long, long time. I will reduce crime, save our community money, protecting our family values. I’ll support the incredible men and women of the Sioux Falls Police Department and together we’ll face the growing crime problem head on. And since I know how to get work done in Pierre, I’ll work with the Governor and legislature, along with state and county officials, to solve our unique crime problems before they ruin the great city of Sioux Falls.
No candidate is more committed, or more qualified, to making Sioux Falls a safer city than me.
Kenny Anderson: I have been on a citizens committee working on crime issues in our area. I feel the need to reduce and eliminate the demand for the drugs in our area will also reduce the crime happening in our city and the surrounding areas. By using treatment and educating the young of the downfalls we can reduce the demand. More interaction by our resource and law enforcement with neighborhoods and our young people to build relationships and better the communications with our citizens to let they know we care.
4. There’s an attack on free speech in this country with buzz phrases such as hate speech, free speech zones. What will you do to ensure that open civilized dialogue is championed in Sioux Falls?
Paul TenHaken: Increasingly, we tend to submit to the vocal minority in free speech settings versus allowing all side to openly discuss all angles of an issue. As stated in the question, the civility of these discussions is the lost art we need to regain. My administration will not discriminate among ANY group that wishes to make the positions known in a productive and civilized fashion and will ensure that political correctness does not override our free speech liberties.
Mike Gunn: Again by utilizing the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. I would mandate that every individual has a right to speak his/her feelings without fear of retribution. To be well informed is to hear both sides equally. During any debate that I am in charge of Citizens will be knowledge d as Americans only. There will be no sub categories or such things as German-American. Just American. There will no force of belief by others nor influence beyond ones own opinion. Each Citizen has a right to choose their own choice. And not fear because of it. The whole City will be free speech and that would extend to those that work for the City as well. Open Government is just that open to every Citizen and It will be so If I am elected.
Greg Jamison: I strongly believe in the First Amendment and I don’t believe in limiting speech. I believe in bringing people together to learn from each other and build consensus about what we can agree on.
My collaborative leadership style brings people together to achieve a common purpose, tempered by the ability to understand different viewpoints. I’ll work with the Chamber ensuring City Hall is responsive to our business community as we grow our economy creating new and better jobs.
I organized an Economic Forum in 2009 with business leaders, elected officials and citizens to discuss how we could thrive, as the nation faced the onset of the Great Recession. As City Councilman, I organized the first meeting of elected officials from metro counties to discuss better metro area collaboration. And another example is when I brought stakeholders together to organize the Transit Task Force developing a long-term public transit system. The best predictor of the future is the past and I have a proven track record of bringing people together to communicate and find solutions.
I’ll work closer than any Mayor in Sioux Falls’ history with our amazing faith community. My administration will keep open lines of communication with our faith leaders and non-profit organizations whose cause is to make Sioux Falls a better place to call home.
Lastly, I’ll keep a good sense of humor, remembering we can disagree without being disagreeable…because we’re in this together.
Kenny Anderson:As a military veteran I strongly believe that free speech is a core base of our country. But some have used it to promote divineness and fear in our communities. I will be a strong voice and stand against those who use this right in a negative manner.
5. Do you believe the government in Sioux Falls and transparency problem? In brief, what would you be your plan to address it? (Freedom)
Paul TenHaken: As previously mentioned, I am the only mayoral candidate to have the vision and leadership to release a 2026 plan for the next eight years of our city. The act of releasing that plan in and of itself shows my commitment to transparency in government. This plan can be found at https://www.tenhakenformayor.com/2026-plan I would ensure the open communication is re-implemented in City Hall through open office hours with the mayor, stronger communication with our city council, the releasing of information that we typically have kept secret (as long as the integrity of any proposal and/or decision is not compromised by doing so), and using digital and social media much more effectively to open up communication and decision making to citizens.
Mike Gunn: Change the whole platform of how our City addresses Citizens voices today. Ordinances will be compiled short but to the point to insure that Citizens will always be the ones heard and respected no matter their position. Or their place of employment, as stated earlier even those that work for the City. A Mayor should be criticized as well as questioned when the reason for such arises. He/She can not be soft of heart, mind or sole when it comes to any part, good or bad.
Greg Jamison: I’m not going criticize the current or past administrations. However, as a citizen, I’ve felt like there have been times we haven’t gotten the full story.
The Jamison administration will be an open door with an open mind. I will not tolerate side deals, secrecy or people who are involved to hurt others. Good government is an open government. We are, after all, a government of, by and for the people. I’ll be our new Mayor that is of, by and for the people, governing under our State motto, “Under God, the People Rule.”
Kenny Anderson: I will work from day 1 as Mayor to work with the City Council, Director’s, to notify, inform, people of how and why we are doing city business. The city is run as a business but is a service to its citizens.
6. As mayor how will you respond when city employees keep bibles on their desks in the city office and request to use city conference rooms to conduct Bible studies after working hours?
Paul TenHaken: I actually plan to do this myself. That statement should tell you all you need to know.
Mike Gunn: Not only bibles will be allowed but any form of religious belief as long as it does not create conflict with others in the work place. Meaning during working hours and hinders others working. As far as use of Public property> as long as it is cared for in a proper manner and left as it was received. Than any Citizen should have the ability to use such area’s. Scheduling would be the only issue that I would foresee. As in the question of freedom of speech, no other entity shall create havoc or disrupt the peaceful practice of others. All that the City has is Public (taxpayer) owned.
Greg Jamison: I will not respond at all if there’s a Bible on someone desk. There is a Bible on my desk today and there will be when I’m the new Mayor of Sioux Falls.
If a Bible study group requests to use a city conference room, they will be allowed to use it.
Kenny Anderson: I will allow employees to keep religious material in their desk and they are allowed to read on their own time. After hours use of the cities conference rooms or any other rooms in the building are decided on a case by case basis.
Editor’s Note: This is an update to this article posted last week. Article by Ed Randazzo, Public Policy Analyst for FHA Action.
Recently we learned that the Sioux Falls City Council was set to approve the most invasive and overreaching “SOGI” (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity) Ordinance amendments in the nation. This was the Human Relations Ordinance (HRO) CH 98.
FHA Action, along with other godly stakeholders including Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, and others, mobilized to oppose this dangerous attempt to make those grappling with sexual orientation issues and gender identity issues a protected class of citizens. If successful, this amendment to the Sioux Falls Human Rights Ordinance would have forced not only the City of Sioux Falls but businesses and even churches to comply, even if it was counter to their religious or moral convictions.
Your voice was heard. The mobilization has already produced limited success as the Sioux Falls City Attorney’s office has requested that this Ordinance Amendment (HRO CH 98) be withdrawn from the Council’s June 14th prepared agenda. ABC’s Sioux Falls affiliate, KSFY files this report. We will continue to be vigilant; however, as it is likely that some form of SOGI amendment will be forthcoming.
Already we know of the intent to amend another Sioux Falls Ordinance that would include gender identity protection in employment by the City of Sioux Falls. This is the HRO CH 39. FHA Action will oppose its passage.
FHA Action assures you that we will continue to make sure your voice is heard and we will inform you of further developments in Sioux Falls and across our great state.