Sioux Falls 9th Best-Run City in U.S.

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.


5 Responses to Sioux Falls 9th Best-Run City in U.S.

  1. Darin Larson

    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.

    Cory, This seems like a superficial analysis at best. Thinking about this for about a minute and looking at the list of best run cities, I looked up Des Moines, Ia. Des Moines is #68 on the list and everything that you said were the inherent advantages of SF applies to Des Moines, but Des Moines is #68, barely in the top half.

    You also don’t even mention the other criteria areas that a mayor does have some role in shaping.

    Fox would be proud with your one sided article. :)

  2. Darin, someone’s got to pre-empt the big-money Huether propaganda machine. ;-)

  3. It is interesting the number of cities that are near the top of the list which are in red states.
    I would guess that the urban draw of these cities brings those interested in leaving their conservative roots for something that is a little bit more structured. They bring with them a desire for more liberal social policies and freedoms while likely keeping a strong work ethic and some fiscally conservative beliefs. This makes for a decent formula for strong cities (at least in meeting these metrics).

    One argument against this, is an anecdote that I have noticed in the nursing workforce. Nurses in many MN cities are unionized, which has led to strong pay and lower nursing unemployment in these areas. I have watched as numerous new nurses have gained their experience in the plentiful nursing jobs of the Dakotas only to flee for better pay and work conditions in Minnesota. This leaves our hospitals in a constant revolving door of hiring and burning out nurses and a degradation of the experience level of our nursing workforce. I am sure this is not the only profession that experiences this heavy inflow and outflow.

  4. Can you imagine were that high with the way Slick Mikes acts as mayor.

  5. We in Sioux falls are always interested in where our mayor finds all of these lists to join and then where to get them reprinted.