SF City Council Splits, Mayor Breaks Tie As Ordinance Fails


The Sioux Falls City Council voted on a possible change Tuesday night to how city councilors win election to the council. 

Right now, according to the city’s code of ordinances, if you’re running for city council or mayor, you need a majority of the vote to win an election if the race has at least three candidates. Otherwise it goes to a runoff. What Tuesday’s ordinance would have done is dropped the needed votes to 34-percent for a council seat. 

It failed 5 to 4 with Mayor Paul TenHaken making the tie-breaking no vote. 

Following the motion to approve and a second, only councilors who ended up voting for the ordinance voiced their thoughts into the microphone.

“I think fifty percent isn’t good because it becomes incumbent protection, it becomes an opportunity for people that can raise more money, that can withstand an additional election,” councilor Pat Starr said. “This is supposed to be a part-time council.”

“I am conflicted here, I didn’t bring this forward myself because I struggled with the idea of voting on my own election threshold,” Neitzert said.

But in the end, like half of the council, he voted for the ordinance.

“Extending campaigns, encouraging additional spending, all of these are negative consequences, there wasn’t a problem,” Neitzert said. “We just don’t need fifty percent.”

Voting in favor of Tuesday’s ordinance that would have dropped the needed percentage of the vote to 34% were councilors Greg Neitzert, Pat Starr, Theresa Stehly, and Janet Brekke. Against it were the other four: Marshall Selberg, Curt Soehl, Christine Erickson, and Rick Kiley and Mayor TenHaken.

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