SIOUX FALLS, SD – A Sioux Falls immigration lawyer has started the mayoral race against incumbent President Paul TenHaken.
Taneeza Islam spoke to supporters on Tuesday, October 5, supported by a colorful mural in a park in Sioux Falls, where she said she first held a protest for DACA recipients in 2017.
“Welcome back,” said Islam, executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace. “Our city cannot be strong when the gap between those who have access to it and the wealth grows while those who need our community most are invisible.”
Islam, who said she was the first Muslim-American woman to run for a post in the entire city, also noted the diversity of the growing city of just under 200,000 in the south. East of South Dakota, claiming that 40% of its educated population are children of color.
“We need leadership that reflects this,” observed Islam.
The current mayor of the city, TenHaken, is a former marketing executive who won the election with nearly two-thirds of the city’s vote in 2018. However, TenHaken, a Republican, has come under close scrutiny during the pandemic by some members of the community, as he resisted calls to implement a warrant mask.
TenHaken announcement his campaign for re-election last month, claiming he hated the term “politician”, “because it’s almost a negative word today due to the political divide.”
While the town hall is generally regarded as a non-partisan seat, a number of Sioux Falls Democrats were on hand to support Islam’s candidate announcement on Tuesday. Earlier this year, Islam released a statement criticizing Governor Kristi Noem for stoking “racial fears” following comments she made on Fox News about the refugee resettlement.
“There have never been any ‘unchecked refugees’ in South Dakota, and the governor knows it,” Islam said.
Residents of Sioux Falls will go to the polls in April of next year.