After giving the idea serious contemplation last year, Sioux Falls businessman Paul TenHaken had backed off a bid for Mayor to succeed outgoing Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether, who is leaving office because of term limits in 2018.
But like some dreams, there are those that a person can’t get out of their head, and they keep returning to that “what if” thought.
And for the founder of Click Rain, one of INC Magazine’s top 5000 private businesses in the country for growth for nearly four years now, Ten Haken found his path winding back to that thought – that a campaign for Mayor of Sioux Falls may be part of his story in a chapter yet to be written.
This morning, TenHaken started that new chapter by announcing a surprise bid to become Mayor of Sioux Falls in 2018.
I asked Paul about what triggered him to re-examine entering the race once again, and he noted “While I have been looking at getting into this race for the past two years, I honestly didn’t feel the time was right until the last couple of months. The leadership transition at my company has gone tremendously well and has energized me to tackle this new challenge.”
The transition at TenHaken’s company involved him taking a step back from day to day duties, and as opposed to serving as CEO, taking a role as founder and advisory board chair for his business giving him time to pursue “new business conversations,” in his words.
I asked Paul that loaded question all candidates are faced with: “Why? What is drawing you to run for Mayor?”
His reply is that “the past ten years of running a successful company has reinforced my core passion for leading people. I love the challenge of developing leaders, building consensus, and bringing people together for a common good. There would be no greater honor than to bring that passion to the people of Sioux Falls.”
Reviewing the issues that he sees as important in the race, TenHaken offered that “there are going to be a myriad of issues to dive into, but poverty and affordable housing are issues I feel especially called to tackle. We’ll also have a tight budget for the next several years, accompanied by workforce shortage challenges. Despite some hurdles to jump, it remains a fantastic time to be a Sioux Falls resident and I hope to keep our momentum going.”
While Mayor is a non-partisan race, supporters often line up on a party basis in picking sides in the contest. On the Republican side of the aisle, Ten Haken would join Jim Entenman, a City Councilman who is often said to be allied with the outgoing Democrat Mayor Mike Huether. One of the most notable opponents will be fellow Republican, former Councilman and State Representative Greg Jamison, who had challenged Huether for mayor in 2014.
On the opposite side, also running are Democrats Nick Weiland, son of former US Senate Candidate Rick Weiland. David Zokaites of Sioux Falls is running, as is former City Councilman Kenny Anderson, Jr. and Mike Gunn.
Unlike some fresh faces entering the mayoral contest, TenHaken brings a widely recognized business success story as well as a can-do attitude that he’s parlayed into being a motivational speaker, an author, and a fitness enthusiast who has competed on the NBC Television show “Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.”
With so many others in the contest at this point, I asked TenHaken why he believes he’s different from his opponents.
“I think I bring a very different background and leadership style to this race. If we are serious as a city about looking to our next generation of leadership, I feel as though I represent that,” he said.
The election for Sioux Falls Mayor will be held on April 10th, 2018.