This article goes to the heart of the mayoral election this Tuesday and the future of Sioux Falls. There is no doubt that Mayor Huether made good on his campaign promise to build an event center. The problem with this achievement is it's short sightedness for the economic development future. I wish I could tell you how many times various persons have told me that this mayor does not believe in long term planning. The building of an event center in a wasteland of economic development is proof of that lack of commitment to long term planning for this city. The expediency of getting his campaign promise checked off his mayoral bucket list has left us with an entertainment venue that has nothing around it. The city has to prop up a hotel at Elmwood Golf Course to make it look like something is actually going to happen out there on a new stretch of 6 lanes of roadway with no businesses to turn off on.
Rhetoric has been this mayor's strong suit these past four years. Goodness knows, we have had more news releases and news conferences than most of the last few mayoral terms. Not all of it has been bad, some of it has been newsworthy, some of it has been self serving white noise and braggadocio.
Here's what I remember about the incumbent's first term as mayor:
- Taking credit for road construction that has been the heartbeat and soul of the five year Capital Improvement Plan for decades.
- Being dubbed the downtown revivalist when Downtown SF is probably in the worse shape it's been since former Mayors Hanson and Munson took on Downtown revitalization years ago.
- Money in the piggy bank comments when money in the reserve fund has been the norm, not the exceptional happening in the last four years.
- The bullish economic boom enjoyed in Sioux Falls that has been bullish the last twenty years, not just in the last four years.
- Taking credit for cheap airfares and the introduction of Frontier Airlines that had been in the works before the first term of this mayor even began.
- The destroying and firing of city directors employed or retained as career professionals and turned into a political patronage system with the loss of some outstanding city directors and not being transparent about why they were no longer employed in his administration. They resigned, good people, I didn't really fire them.
- The campaign talk about the wonderful city employees on his team these last few months when they were not even on his horizon or speech the first 3 years of his term. Oh, he did talk about those rich benefits city employees enjoyed when he addressed the Downtown Rotary Club his first year in office.
- Casting a dim light on ethics and an appearance of impropriety by investing in real estate that gets TIF funding from a department directly supervised by the mayor and approved by the city council.
- Petition drives galore - snow gates, indoor/outdoor pools, railroad switching lines clogging neighborhoods and traffic patterns, a Walmart on four corners of the city, development plans, spending issues, sweeping zoning ordinance changes. A restless and unhappy citizenry.
- A city charter revision commission that decided it didn't need to work transparently and publicly in front of the citizens because they were being criticized for their work.
- Choosing to not reappoint some city board members under a cloud of heavy handedness and retribution for not doing his bidding.
I could probably come up with more items but whew, this is enough to help me make a decision next Tuesday. By the way, I don't give two hoots about whether someone is a Republican or Democrat. All I care about is that the person is someone I have confidence in leading this city the next four years. And yes, the likeability factor means something to me too. So does humility, character, and honesty. A genuine, not fake demeanor, a sincerity that comes across as genuine and a commitment and respect for long term planning and a recognition and respect for the importance of city employees that is not just a convenient platitude to get someone through the next election.
I support Greg Jamison for Mayor. I encourage you to vote Jamison for Mayor on April 8th.