Party politics still play a role in non-partisan mayoral races


Six people have announced they are running for mayor in 2018 Wochit

Sioux Falls’ six mayoral candidates might be pursuing a non-partisan office, but that doesn’t mean their political parties don’t influence voters.

Party affiliation still comes up in conversation. And being a Democrat or Republican has an undeniable influence on leadership style and philosophy.

City government tends to be focused on essential services that don’t get bogged down with partisan divides, said Jon Schaff, a political scientist at Northern State University.

“If partisanship can show us anything in these races it’s more so the general disposition toward how active the government is going to be and the use of government to improve people’s lives versus leaving people alone,” he said.

But political ideologies can rear their head on the margins of civic politics.

In this year’s Sioux Falls mayoral contest, voters will choose between four Republicans – Jim Entenman , Mike Gunn, Greg Jamison and Paul TenHaken – and two Democrats – Kenny Anderson Jr. and Jolene Loetscher.

Municipal offices across South Dakota are supposed to be devoid of partisan politics, and candidates don’t run as Republicans or Democrats. But more often than not, city councilors and mayors are affiliated with one of the two major political parties.

And though party designations aren’t as important in local…

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