Sioux Falls is filled with amazing people doing great things. The arts scene dazzles. Youth sports teams earn national praise. Exciting new restaurants open weekly. That’s no accident! Our dynamic mayor and effective council have led the way. Yet, as the city grows, obstacles multiply. Entering this complex phase, we’re losing some of our best councilors. Fortunately, with each challenge comes opportunity. If we embrace this axial moment, investing passion and energy, we can elevate our community, building a brilliant future. For that bright day to dawn, we’ll need groundbreaking leadership.
“Groundbreaking” has more than one meaning. First and foremost, let’s break conceptual ground. To do that, we’ll need bold leaders unafraid to innovate. Churchill warned against the tendency to “refight the last war.” While it’s reckless to forsake every time-tested system, let’s embrace pioneering solutions.
In addition to thinking creatively, let’s break ground literally. Over the next decade, let’s build new roads, new schools, new public works. We must upgrade vital civic infrastructure, but let’s do it without frivolous, wasteful spending and without tax hikes!
Sioux Falls can’t avoid growth. For better and for worse, it’s here. We’re feeling some growing pains already. Friends and neighbors observe that our hometown is too crowded; gas, lumber, and basic necessities are too expensive. I get it! Those complaints are legit – because growth has downsides. Due to population influx, we’re fighting traffic congestion, consumer price inflation, soaring property taxes. Violent crime has increased. Working families struggle to find affordable housing.
Yet, growth has upsides, too. As we’ve grown, we’ve become exponentially more productive. Our health care system rivals that of cities ten times our size. We’ve gained amenities and experiences that attract visitors, infusing our economy with tourist dollars. Because Sioux Falls ranks among America’s best places to live and to raise kids, people relocate here. The consequent building surge supports construction jobs, while climbing property values grow home investments.
Despite its costs, growth signals our collective faith that tomorrow will be better than today. When prudent leaders govern responsibly, limiting public costs and avoiding dangerous pitfalls, growth can lead to a golden age, wedding material prosperity and personal virtue. Growth inspires trust in democratic ideals; it strengthens our commitment to civic institutions and predisposes us to forgiveness, openness, philanthropy, and tolerance. Trust in a bright future helps each of us shoulder today’s burden. Working together, secure in the knowledge that we’re building a better city, we’ll face each sunrise with gladness and with hope.