Back in the “old” days, i.e. commission form of government, you could say without winking that local government was non-partisan. People did not walk around talking whether they were Republican or Democrat. You may have known someone was of one political persuasion or another, but it just wasn’t part of the commentary.
Democratic Chair Ben Nesselhuf was trying to build the Democratic Party in South Dakota, starting at the local level. So he met with the mayor of the biggest city in South Dakota to get his blessing. I guess winning the mayor’s race in Sioux Falls can make you the kingpin of the Democratic Party. It shows just how weak the Democratic Party is in this state. Like we didn’t already know that considering the fact that Republican newbie Kristi Noem took out seasoned Democrat Stephanie Herseth. Party affiliation trumps competence and experience.
The mayor said he didn’t have time to get involved in the elections. However, one could deduce from the meeting that he surely indicated what his preferences were to Nesselhuf based upon further actions and statements by Nesselhuf and the Huether.
Nesselhuf helped gather signatures to get Knudson, a Republican, on theballot. Nesselhuf served in the state Senate with Knudson’s husband, formerMajority Leader Dave Knudson, and is a family friend. There was no Democrat inthe race, and Nesselhuf said, “I didn’t have any problem helping her out.”
Three other candidates were approached and all three declined offers of support and help. One was specifically told that the intent was to get Councilor Jamison out of office. Only in South Dakota will you find the Chair of the Democratic Party helping get a Republican elected to office.
At least the local county officials have their heads screwed on right.
Tony Post, the Republican Party executive director, considered getting involved, too, but local officials in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties discouraged that.
“I asked around and they said, ‘No, you guys keep your nosesout of it,’ ” Post said. “We deferred to the locals.”That wasn’t the message Nesselhuf received when he met withHuether and Smith.
If you believe this meeting was about tea and crumpets and not about singing the Democratic kumbya song, then I have some land out by the Arena/Convention Center to sell you. You don’t have to read between the lines to figure out what the Democratic duo down at City Hall were doing. They can protest and spin it all the way to Pierre.
You know, I can accept the mayor being involved in this meeting because he wears the political designation like a second skin. But bringing Darrin Smith, the city’s director of community development and public parking along to the meeting is very telling.
City Directors used to be recognized and respected appointed career professionals. When you elect a partisan mayor like Huether you get a “political appointee” like Darrin Smith. A partisan appointment like Smith’s should have been more appropriately placed in the mayor’s office so as not to bastardize the director level of government.
Every mayor prior to this politically charged mayor, have recognized the importance of having directors who are educated, trained and have valuable relevant experience in their department field. The arrogance of Smith’s justification for being at the “political” meeting is offensive. Darrin Smith is a political opportunist and gained his current job as a “political payback gift” not because he was the “best qualified.”
Local elected officials need to work with everyone irrespective of one’s political leanings. You need to work with the SD congressional delegation which means tucking your political shirttail in and doing what is best for Sioux Falls, not your party affiliation.
This form of government promotes partisan politics. And we have a mayor and a city director to prove it. When you have to justify what you have done or previously said, you have either done something stupid or you have been politically motivated.