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Islam Campaign: We Responded to Coronavirus at Smithfield Before Mayor Tenhaken Did

If radical right-wing death cultists can use coronavirus as an excuse to take over local government to hasten the apocalypse, then decent Americans should be able to use the pandemic as a campaign issue to distinguish themselves from clay-footed incumbents.

So figures Taneeza Islam, candidate for Sioux Falls mayor, who points out that her non-profit jumped to the aid of Smithfield Foods workers in April 2020 before the city did:

Taneeza Islam, campaign Tweet, 2021.10.10.
Taneeza Islam, campaign Tweet, 2021.10.10.

South Dakota Voices for Peace, which Islam directs, was indeed working with labor and immigrant groups (and in South Dakota food processing, labor and immigrants are inextricable, if not indistinguishable) to bring attention to the mortal risk Smithfield workers were undertaking to keep wieners rolling off the assembly line while Mayor Paul TenHaken and Governor Kristi Noem wrung their hands.

Islam’s critique of TenHaken’s slow coronavirus response is couched in a thread highlighting the need for more multilingual services to better welcome and serve Sioux Falls’s growing population of newcomers. But the pandemic has provided a crucible to test our leaders and their policies. Coronavirus has shown that we can’t just elect handsome family men and pageant cowgirls to make the news prettier; we need to elect competent managers who create smart, effective policies that prepare our communities for adverse conditions and who can respond quickly and practically, without ideological or political hesitation, to crises.


  1. larry kurtz 2021-10-11

    Taneeza Islam is a lawyer and human rights advocate who advances communitarianism, not fascism.

    Deploying the Trump Virus as a bioweapon South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem chose and still chooses to put brown people in harm’s way but it’s unlikely to put her at risk to litigation for hate crimes and worse. Smithfield employees trapped in South Dakota are brown people. Noem is a Koch fiend and everything she’s done since she’s held public office is right out of their playbook. That she doesn’t care should be the real story.

  2. Porter Lansing 2021-10-11

    As dust settles, we can’t ignore that Governor Kristi Noem (R-SD) had no plan or intentions to address the biggest pandemic in USA history.

    To cover her ass, she did nothing and labeled it “Supporting Small Government”, a tenet of the Koch Brothers scheme to lower their tax burden and support the “pollution generation” they use to make their billions.

  3. mike from iowa 2021-10-11

    Way OT…. Happy (or whatever word you want to use) Indigenous Peoples Day.

  4. Donald Pay 2021-10-11

    I like competent, responsive and responsible government. It strikes me that Tanezza Islam, as a leader of a citizen group, did more to bring the Smithfield Covid outbreak forward and get it solved than either the mayor or the governor. In my experience, this is the way it is in South Dakota.

    Leaders fail to lead, too scared to upset the powers that be. And generally, when they do lead it’s too little, too late. Or they insist there was nothing to be done.

    I remember when Williams Pipeline Company leaked petroleum products on the west side of Sioux Falls, polluting water which caused the shut down of a school. Citizens had to lead the charge there, while government dithered. Yeah, the governor and mayor at the time did try to get the mess under control, but they didn’t use all the levers of power they could have. Finally, after being played for far too long, Governor Mickelson turned Williams Pipeline Company over to the EPA Superfund Program. The feds had to do the job. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a competent person willing to stand up for citizens, and not be scared they might lose out on some campaign checks?

    I read where Ten Haken was at a prayer breakfast talking about how God called him to run for mayor. He’s got an highly inflated opinion of himself, which probably explains why he didn’t care if Smithfield workers died before he could get around to doing his job. I wonder if it was God or the campaign checks which caused him to be a little late on the draw, at least compared to Islam.

    On the biggest issue in the last couple years, Ten Haken failed the test. Islam didn’t. She’s competent. She’s responsive. She’s responsible.

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