SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A Sioux Falls immigration attorney has entered the race for mayor against incumbent Paul TenHaken.
Taneeza Islam spoke to supporters on Tuesday, Oct. 5, backed by a colorful mural in a Sioux Falls park, where she said she first organized a protest for DACA recipients in 2017.
"Welcome back," said Islam, executive director for South Dakota Voices for Peace. "Our city cannot be strong when the divide between those who have access and wealth is growing while those with the most need in our community are unseen."
Islam, who said she is the first American-Muslim woman to run for citywide office, also noted the diversity of the growing city of just under 200,000 people in southeastern South Dakota, saying 40% of its school-going population are children of color.
"We need leadership who reflects that," observed Islam.
The city's current mayor, TenHaken, is a former marketing executive who won election with nearly two-thirds the city's vote in 2018. However, TenHaken, a Republican, came under scrutiny during the pandemic from some members of the community, as he resisted calls to implement a mask mandate.
TenHaken announced his campaign for reelection last month, saying he hated the term "politician," "because it's almost a negative word today because of how divisive politics has gotten."
While the mayoral office is generally considered a nonpartisan 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 Gov. Kristi Noem for stoking "racial fears" over comments she made on Fox News about the resettlement of refugees.
"There have never been any 'unvetted refugees' in South Dakota, and the governor knows it," said Islam.
Sioux Falls residents will go to the polls in April next year.