Registrations might explain part of Sioux Falls mayor race

As Paul Ten Haken prepares to officially take office as mayor of Sioux Falls on May 15, the run-off’s ramifications still rumble.

The South Dakota Republican Party openly backed Ten Haken in the run-off. His run-off opponent, Jolene Loetscher, openly spoke at the South Dakota Democratic Party’s McGovern weekend.

So much for a non-partisan municipal election.

Here is one part of the explanation for the Republicans’ victory.

The May 1 voter-registration numbers for Minnehaha County showed 45,215 Republicans; 35,508 Democrats; and 29,992 independents.

Eight years ago, after then-Democrat Mike Huether was elected mayor of South Dakota’s largest city, general-election registrations were 44,451 Republicans; 41,679 Democrats; and 19,142 independents.

In other words, Minnehaha County gained nearly 1,000 Republicans; Democrats lost about 6,000; and independents climbed by more than 10,000.

Sioux Falls meanwhile continued to see population grow in Lincoln County to the south. Lincoln County registrations as of May 1 were 17,403 Republicans; 8,590 Democrats; and 8,954 independents.

Eight years ago, Lincoln County registrations for the general election were for 13,943 Republicans; 8,427 Democrats; and 5,106 independents.

So Lincoln County during eight years of Huether gained more than 3,000 Republicans and some 3,800 independents, while Democrats added about 200.

Huether, by the way, switched his registration while mayor to an independent.

Paul Ten Haken joins Gary Hanson and Dave Munson as Republicans elected mayor since the city government switched to home rule. Three of the four winners of the open seat have been Republicans since then.