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Jamison faces uphill battle in quest for mayor

by Greg Belfrage

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO-AM) - City councilor Greg Jamison officially launched his bid today for mayor of Sioux Falls.  Jamison is a native of Sioux Falls and owns a small advertising business.  He's been representing the Southwest District on the Sioux Falls City Council since 2008.

Jamison's initial entry in the mayoral contest got off to an unusual start.  Jamison's daughter had created a campaign Twitter account with the username "@jamison for mayor".  A local television station noticed the new handle among their Twitter followers and the cat was out of the bag.

It was an understandable mis-step in a new age of social media.  However, its not helpful to be making mistakes right out of the gate.  Managing the city might prove difficult if you can't even manage the announcement of your entry into the race.

To be fair, Jamison's desire to run for mayor has hardly been a big secret.  It's been clear to me for a long time that Jamison was positioning himself at odds with Mayor Mike Huether on nearly every issue.  That's usually a sign that a challenge is coming.

Jamison is smart and has a lot of support, especially among Republicans.  There are a number of Republicans who will oppose Huether's re-election simply because he's a Democrat.  Greg is also very likely to draw support from those who wanted an Events Center located downtown.

During his campaign announcement today, Jamison pushed for a "change of culture in City Hall". That theme may play well among city employees and those who already oppose Huether, but it won't win my support.  Jamison is going to have a hard time convincing this voter that Sioux Falls needs to slow down. 

Former mayor Dave Munson is a great guy.  But let's admit it.  Sioux Falls languished under his leadership.  The Events Center debate went on for year after year after year.  Roads deteriorated.

Mike Huether came into office and changed the culture in City Hall.  He got things moving again.  A vote was quickly scheduled on the Events Center and construction is now well underway.  The city has been involved in aggressive road maintenance and repair of essential infrastructure for the past two years.  Things are getting done.

Huether has certainly stepped on toes and made his share of political enemies.  But that's what leaders do.  

Huether's leadership style is reminiscent to me of former governor Bill Janklow.  Love him or hate him, Janklow had a way of getting things done.

I was in Spencer, South Dakota a few days after a deadly tornado ripped through the town in 1998. Governor Bill Janklow was there, bellowing orders into a bullhorn and working just as hard as anyone else involved in the clean-up.

A late spring ice storm this year caused destruction to a degree that many of us have never seen in Sioux Falls.  I interviewed Mayor Huether a number of times in the few days following the storm.  He reminded me very much of what I had seen of Bill Janklow in 98.

Huether rolled up his sleeves, went to work with his team, and began an effective and highly organized clean-up.  It was a great example of how government is supposed to work.

I'll wait to see how the campaign unfolds.  However, Jamison's more cautious approach doesn't play well with me.  I'm pleased to see the city is responsive and aggressively moving forward again.  In my view, its been long overdue.

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings from 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM.