Editor's note: This story is part of a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find all the coverage that's been done so far right here.

Simplified: Cmtv News sat down with each of the eight candidates hoping to have a seat on the City Council. Candidates were all asked (approximately) the same set of questions. Here's what they had to say about prioritizing and funding public safety.

Why it matters

  • When it comes to public safety, the Sioux Falls Police Department continues to grow alongside the city, all while crime rates remain relatively flat. We asked candidates how they'll approach funding decisions related to police and public safety.

Another quick note: Candidates are listed in the order in which they're shared on the city election website. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

Sioux Falls has a new public transit provider and changes on the way with on-demand busing — as that progresses, what does success look like in your opinion?

Jennifer Sigette, Northwest District*: "As I understand it, the police department – anything they need, we give them. I 100% support that going forward."

  • Sigette said she'd like to also be sure to include the fire department in public safety conversations, especially in giving a "pat on the back" for recognitions that department has received.
  • "There's always gonna be the people that complain about spending money, but you know what, they wouldn't complain when the house is on fire. They're going to be thankful (when first responders show up)."

Miranda Basye, Northeast District: "I think public safety is super important," she said, adding that she's a huge proponent of the police department and that she's done a ride-along as part of her campaign.

  • "I think it’s a lot more than, 'oh we’re cracking down on speeding or worrying if somebody ran a stoplight' – but rather (policing should be) an extension of the community so we can all live work and play as our best selves."

Neil Jeske, Northeast District: "A part of my approach would be to cut excess waste in the city government so we can try to provide better wages for police, fire and frontline city workers."

  • Jeske noted specific concerns about the criminal record of a boy in his neighborhood.
  • "As far as public safety, when seconds matter, the police are minutes away. ... People need to protect their own families and their property," he added, noting that he's a strong proponent of the second amendment when people are properly trained in gun safety.

David Zokaites, Northeast District: Zokaites said he was stopped by Sioux Falls police while walking around collecting signatures, and after that experience he'd like to see more training in the police department on both mental health and civil rights.

  • "I think the criminal justice system needs reform," he added, saying he would like to redesign drug policy and legalize recreational marijuana.

Ryan Spellerberg, Southwest District*: Spellerberg said he's also done a ride-along with Sioux Falls police.

  • "It's unbelievable what our men and women in blue do. I am all on board for supporting people in our police department. ... Seeing what they're dealing with on a daily basis, I have all the respect in the world for what they do."
  • Spellerberg also noted the new public safety training center is a "masterpiece." that should help with recruiting new officers to town.

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "The way I look at safety comes from my background in one, urbanism, and two, on-street engagement. I've worked a lot with people in the area who are houseless, or struggling, on the edge.

  • I want to invest dollars in where safety comes from. ... A street that has decent shade and coverage of trees, you will see less crime on that street. If you have a street that is safe for pedestrians, you will have less crime on that street.
  • I'll back the police department in a way that facilitates safety, in a way that's backed by research, but I'm not going to throw money at them to expect that's where safety is going to come from. Safety is going to come from smart design in our streetscape."

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "A common line that I say is communication and addressing things as they come up. I like to be proactive instead of reactive. ... it's ensuring that there's a constant line of communication on not only what the police department needs, but what the fire department needs, what EMTs need."

  • He said he'd also like to support law enforcement in any way, shape or form possible.

Allison Renville, At-Large: Renville noted she has a law enforcement background and went to school for criminal justice.

  • "My involvement in Sioux Falls actually came about after the officer shot Jacob James behind the Burger King ... I got involved because I know there ... I'm not seeing anything that I'm satisfied with."
  • Renville also said she's in-favor of community policing, specifically in having officers serving the neighborhoods they're from and responding to issues they understand.
  • "It's the cops that don't know the areas that aren't responding to the girls being trafficked ... by the time I come into contact with these girls they've run into cops or EMTs three or four times."

Want to learn more about the candidates?

See who they are and why they're running here:

Meet the people who want to represent you on the Sioux Falls City Council
Four of the eight Sioux Falls City Council seats will have new faces after the April 9 election. Here’s an easy look at who’s running to represent you.

And then get their thoughts on roads:

What City Council candidates have to say about roads
There are about 900 miles of roads within the city, and that number grows by about 10-15 miles each year.

And then see what they have to say about the Riverline District:

What candidates have to say about the 2050 vision for the Riverline District
Mayor Paul TenHaken last month laid out a 2050 vision for the Riverline District that includes a new downtown convention center.

Find the full guide to elections here.