Let My People Choose the Next Commissioner

Like most local residents, I was absolutely shocked when Darrin Smith recently announced that he was resigning his position as city commissioner. Shocked and saddened, as Smith was a rare sort of city official – he was a bit of a renegade who was not afraid to ruffle some feathers if he felt it was deserved.
Despite the idiotic blathering of his critics, however, he didn’t just attack for the sake of headlines and notoriety. When Dave Munson mishandled our city’s finances, he was correct to lead the commission to investigate the situation. He was also correct in his opposition of sweetheart deals that would benefit only a handful of businessmen who had become too comfortable with making money off the city’s back.
Yet I’m not saying that every move he made was a stroke of genius. I still feel that he, along with Vernon Brown and Andy Howes, were complete fools when they sat on the second floor of a downtown business to watch the Loopers waste another Friday evening. The so-called problems of the Loopers could, and should, have been solved just by a constant police presence. Instead, we built a giant “no fun allowed” sign on the downtown borders.
When Smith announced earlier this year his plan to run for mayor, he was immediately the front-runner…at least until everybody and their dog entered the race. He ultimately finished fourth in the initial race, but I believe that he not only enjoyed politics but would eventually become a player in bigger and better political races. Who knows, though, maybe it will still happen.
Smith’s resignation threw our city’s government into a bit of a tizzy. Nobody quite knew what should be done to replace him. About the only thing they could agree on was that the replacement had to reside in Smith’s district. Well, duh. Some wanted the commission to appoint a person; others wanted pubic hearings.
This past week, a decision was finally made. The dozen people who have expressed interest in the position will have fifteen minutes to make their case to the commission members in a public meeting. Each commissioner will then write down his choice, and those individuals who receive a vote moves on to the next round. After another public hearing the commissioners will make their final decision on July 17.
In my mind, this process is a mistake. There should be a special election that gives the people of that district the right to decide who represents their interest. This is one area where taxpayer cost should not be a concern. With that kind of thinking we could easily become a dictatorship…which would actually please a few morons who want to control the government for their own personal gain.
The process that our commission has decided to use will not result in any sort of new blood reenergizing the office he will hold. Too many of the people that have applied are old names who have held political positions in the past. Jerry Noonan, for example, has been a county commissioner but has lost at least twice in city commission races. Yet I could see the city choosing him for the job. It’s a similar situation with Tim Kant, Tam Baker, and a couple of other candidates. We all know that De Knudson will just ask her bff (best friend forever) Dave Munson to ensure that the person he likes the best will get the job.
This is not the time for our city leaders to adopt a “safe mode” work ethic. We’ve had a couple of tumultuous years with quite a few questions that still need answers. We, or at least the citizens of Smith’s district, deserve more than a status quo-loving professional politician to keep our fine city sort through the growing pains that will be inevitable as we continue to grow and grow. Let the people decide just who that person should be.


Anonymous said…
I read the Resumes yesterday. I liked Michelle Erpenbach the most. I will probably attend the public interview and hear them speak. My guess is it will be either Kant, Noonan or Baker. If I had to pick one though, it would be Baker. I think the people of the district should be allowed to pick, it is barely any cost to the people of that district. But we seem to become a city and state that just lets our politicians do as they please (abortion law, school funding) I hope these blow up in their faces.
Anonymous said…
I agree with your take. Also if I remember correctly it was Kenyon Gleason, Darrin and Andy watching the loopers. Still a great pic in Argus history.
Stickler said…
FYI ... I hate to be a stickler for facts, but Sioux Falls has a City Council, not commission. That has been the case since we've been governing under the Home Rule Charter in the early 1990s. I apprecicate that the city is attempting to save taxpayer dollars (whoa, that's a change!), but do agree that the citizens in the NW District should have the say ...

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