The clock is ticking, and you have less than six weeks to shape the future of Sioux Falls. Come April 8, you will decide who will be mayor, and who will fill city council seats. You will also answer four ballot questions. The City of Sioux Falls will hold eight public educational meetings throughout March.
"The most important part of our democracy is to have an informed voter. This is an attempt to do so," David Pfeifle, Sioux Falls City Attorney, said.
Through pre-recorded video presentations, approved by the City Attorney's Office, you will be able to learn more about these four issues: the Spellerberg Aquatic Center, Snow Gates, Commercial Zoning at the site of a proposed Walmart, and the Shape Places Zoning Ordinance. You can also see them at the City's website. State law does not allow public funds to be used to influence an election, but it does allow government to educate voters with "factual" information. City officials say these meetings comply with that, and will be, "strictly educational".
"The public has a lot of opportunity to learn more and that's all we're trying to do is provide those opportunities for people to come and learn more," Heather Hitterdal, Sioux Falls Communications Specialist, said.
Not everyone agrees. One group is concerned these meetings will sway voters.
"The City getting involved as City officials, the City spending money on gasoline to go to any meeting, setting aside anything out of their schedule; they become advocates," Bruce Danielson, Citizens for Integrity, said.
Citizens for Integrity is a petition group that emerged recently in Sioux Falls, and will have members all of the upcoming meetings. Rather than organizing educational meetings, Danielson thinks City officials should just stick with making sure ballot language is clear, and announcing the results once the final vote is cast.
"What we're trying to do is say, 'City, step back. We have enough people in the discussion. We don't need any referees,'" Danielson said.
Voters will have a chance to ask questions, and give feedback at these meetings to continue the conversation. To find out more, you may contact the Human Relations Office at 605-367-8745 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The dates of the meeting are:
•Monday, March 3
MariCar Community Center
400 North Valley View Road
•Monday, March 10
Oyate Community Center
2421 West 15th Street
•Wednesday, March 12
Prairie Green Golf Course, Clubhouse
600 East 69th Street
•Wednesday, March 19
Kuehn Community Center
2801 South Valley View Road
•Thursday, March 20
Main Library, Meeting Room A
200 North Dakota Avenue
•Monday, March 24
Morningside Community Center
2400 South Bahnson Avenue
•Thursday, March 27
Outdoor Campus, Theater
4500 South Oxbow Avenue
•Monday, March 31
Kenny Anderson Community Center
3701 East Third Street