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Mayor Candidate Pool Low In Some SD Cities

March 27, 2014, 6:30 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Mayor Candidate Pool Low In Some SD Cities
ABERDEEN, SD -

The mayoral candidate pool is thin in some South Dakota cities this year.

Both Pierre and Aberdeen mayors are running unopposed. The Sioux Falls candidate pool is only two this year; it was six last time.

Rather than preparing a campaign, Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen is preparing to serve another five-year term. He faced multiple opponents during his previous two elections.

"The first time I ran there were eight and the second time there were four,” Levsen said. “I really had no expectations this time around."

Northern State University professor Jon Schaff says there could be a number of reasons for the lower candidate pool in some cities.

"Politicians are entrepreneurial, meaning they engage in behavior when they expect some sort of return," Schaff said.

Schaff says if chances of winning are small, that could deter some. That can happen in races, he says, where there is already a strong candidate.

Schaff says candidates also need to consider sacrifices.

"A mayoral position is a position that sucks up enough of your time. But if you're in a smaller town where it's not really a full time job, it may not pay enough for it to be your job and only certain people are in a life situation where this is a position where they can hold," Schaff said.

Levsen says he'd expect challengers if the mayor position in Aberdeen was still full time, like it was the year eight people ran. He also says there hasn't been anything too controversial to stir strong interest in replacing him.

"Aberdeen’s had some real good times and I’ve been the fortunate recipient to be in this chair when that’s happened," Levsen said. "If we'd have had ten bad years instead of ten good years, there'd be plenty of people running against me."

Representatives from both major political parties in South Dakota told us there are always challenges that come with recruiting candidates. The two big ones, they say, are time and money.

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