Add this article to your Huether 2018 folder: WalletHub says Sioux Falls is the ninth-best-run city in the United States. Looking at our 150 largest cities, WalletHub finds Sioux Falls getting good bang for the buck on financial stability, education, health, safety, economy, infrastructure, and pollution.
Those methodology categories show the problem with citing these rankings as justification for shouting “Mayor Mike for Governor!” Consider education: WalletHub counts GreatSchools scores and high school graduation rate. Sioux Falls schools, like all public schools in South Dakota, are run by school boards, which hold elections, levy taxes, and set policy separately from city governments. A slacker mayor is hard-pressed to foul a good school district’s graduation rate, and an outstanding mayor is hard-pressed to get a meathead school board to hire good teachers.
Similarly on pollution: WalletHub’s city rankings include water quality, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental regulation in South Dakota comes mostly from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. If Sioux Falls has dirty water, it’s largely from upstream ag polluters. If Sioux Falls has clean air, its mostly from emissions controls imposed from higher levels.
Whatever validity these city rankings have, Sioux Falls can crow relative to its West River rival. Rapid City ranks 32nd. The Gateway to the Black Hills just misses the top quintile due to a really low score in education… which again, doesn’t really indict Mayor Steve Allender or his predecessor Sam Kooiker but simply points out the challenges the Rapid City Area Schools face in educating a higher-minority (Sioux Falls 86.8% white; Rapid City 80.4% white) and higher-poverty (Sioux Falls: 11.8% in poverty, per capita income $28,120; Rapid City: 15.1% in poverty, per capita income $25,983) population.
As the largest city in the state, with the greatest amount and variety of available jobs, housing, and cultural opportunities in South Dakota, plus relatively easy access to not one but two day-drive metro centers, Sioux Falls could elect an Easter Egg mayor and still likely place in the top quintile of WalletHub’s city-management rankings. Keep an ear out for this survey in pro-Huether propaganda, and be ready to apply grains of salt as appropriate.