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Ballot issue poll shows push back on referrals

by Greg Belfrage

I love polls. Polls are great conversation starters, even though I don't put much stock in the results.

Nielson Brothers have released a new poll with some fascinating results on the upcoming Sioux Falls ballot issues. They recently surveyed about 540 likely voters.

Read more: Sioux Falls poll questions and full results

I'm not one to predict the outcomes of elections, but I do have some thoughts on the poll based on things I've observed over the past few months. 

Sixty-five percent of those polled say they favor snow gates. 

That's hardly a surprise. Mayor Mike Huether has been telling me for several years that he receives overwhelmingly positive response from residents on snow gates. My phones have also run more heavily in support of the snow gates over the past few years.

A proposed south-side Walmart also received strong support (60%) in the poll. This is a bit more surprising, as I hear from many who are strongly opposed to Walmart as a matter of principle.

However, I've also heard from those who have a very negative view of the "Save Your Neighborhood" group. My view is that the group has not managed its message and image well throughout the campaign. 

I've heard from listeners who see the group as an elite, affluent neighborhood that's looking down its collective noses on those who shop at Walmart. Right or wrong, that's a perception I've heard repeated a number of times over the past few months.

Don't forget about Walmart shoppers. You may hate Walmart, but I've never seen any shortage of customers whenever I've shopped my east-side Walmart. Walmart has enough loyal customers in the community that they could be a force at the polls.

There are also those who support more jobs and opportunity in the city. Walmart, of course, will create jobs at the new store. However, there will be many dozens of other jobs created in the businesses that will spring up near a new Walmart. 

Construction out near the east-side Walmart is booming as other chain stores continue to move into the area. The big stores are bringing many smaller retailers, as well as restaurants, convenience stories, movie theaters and other service related businesses.

The fate of Spellerberg pool is less clear. Fifty-five percent favor a new indoor pool rather than an outdoor pool. However, 17 percent say they're still undecided. That's enough undecided votes to swing the election one way or the other. It really will come down to which side turns out the vote.

I suspect there's going to be some push back against the local neighborhood groups from the community at large. Some people are feeling these projects and stores need to be located someplace in order for the city to move forward. They're tired of hearing "not in my backyard".

There's also a growing resentment of these increasing referrals. We elect leaders to do a job for us. There's a segment of people, including myself, who feel referrals should be reserved for serious breaches of the public trust. Its poor governing to use referrals to decide the placement of private retail stores.

I'll be watching with great interest to see what happens on April 8.

Greg Belfrage (@belfrageshow) is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.