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.
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.