SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The race for mayor of South Dakota’s biggest city grew on Tuesday when immigration lawyer Taneeza Islam announced her candidacy. The 43-year-old Islam was born in Michigan and has lived in Sioux Falls since 2012. In addition to being an immigration attorney, she also helped start South Dakota Voices for Peace and is the organization’s executive director.
“Our strength and future is in our growing diversity,” Islam said. “Our new residents are not just economic commodities; they are what is sustaining and what is building our future.”
There were signs at Tuesday’s announcement in both English and Spanish.
“With my last name being Islam, I’ve endured threats to myself and to my family for being outspoken and an advocate for children and domestic violence survivors in immigration court, in preserving the dignity and inclusion of immigrants, refugees and Muslims in our state and city,” Islam said.
Child care, public transportation and equity all came up Tuesday afternoon at the park in central Sioux Falls.
“Our city cannot be strong when the divide between those who have access and wealth is growing, while those with the most need in our community are unseen,” Islam said.
Erin Healy, a Democrat who represents southeast Sioux Falls in the state House of Representatives, was at Islam’s announcement.
“I’m here because Taneeza’s a really effective leader, she cares about her community, she cares about making a diverse and inclusive environment for everybody here in Sioux Falls,” Healy said.
“Every day of my life is a interfaith and intercultural experience, and our beautiful city is diversifying more and more every day, and it’s going to take leaders with the experiences to know how to build a welcoming and inclusive community,” Islam said.
The city election is on April 12; citizens will not only pick a mayor but also for people to fill four spots on the eight-person city council. With regard to the mayoral race, current officeholder Paul TenHaken as well as David Zokaites have filed paperwork to run.