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April 30, 2024 Election:
Sioux Falls City Council  Candidates' Views 

As a 501(c)3 organization, SoDak 350 does not endorse political candidates.  We can help voters to make informed choices.  SoDak 350 posed three questions to the two candidates running in the April 30 runoff election, but only one responded.  Scroll down to see what Jordan Deffenbaugh shared with us.

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Energy Efficiency Home Improvement
Sustainability Plan

In 2022 the Sioux Falls Mayor’s office convened a Steering Committee tasked with updating the Sioux Falls Sustainability Plan.  That steering committee had 31 members including representatives from all of the major utilities providing energy to Sioux Falls as well as the Homebuilders Association.  In December 2022 the Steering Committee draft plan included 71 specific, time driven, outcome-based recommendations in six different focus areas.  In March 2023 that plan was replaced without involvement of the Steering Committee by a framework that basically stripped all specific recommendations from the Steering Committee’s work.


Question: If elected, what role will you play in accelerating Sioux Falls’ transition to a sustainable economy, as reflected in the Steering Committee’s 2022 recommendations?


J. Deffenbaugh:  As a member of the original 18 that developed those 71 recommendations, I will strive to push for more sustainability strategies to be deployed at all levels of our city. In order for sustainability initiatives to be adopted, they need to be started at the neighborhood level and embraced by the neighbors in a context that makes sense for each community. 

Building  Codes

In the fall of 2022, the Sioux Falls mayor’s office asked the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to assess the impact of transitioning from the 2009 building codes currently used by the city to the more recent 2018 codes.  Of note, every major city in the upper Midwest other than Sioux Falls currently uses either 2018 or 2021 building codes.  The PNNL report said:

    "Moving to the 2018 IECC is cost-effective for both single-family and low-rise multifamily residential buildings when compared to the amended 2009 IECC in Sioux Falls. The new code will provide energy cost savings of 23.4% in Sioux Falls. This equates to $619 of annual utility bill savings for the average Sioux Falls household as detailed in Table 1. Adopting the 2018 IECC will also result in societal benefits such as cost savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. During the first year alone, Sioux Falls residents could expect to save over $617,000 in energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions by 4,500 metric tons, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of nearly 1,000 cars on the road. Adopting the 2018 IECC in Sioux Falls is expected to result in homes that are energy efficient, more affordable to own and operate, and based on newer industry standards for health, comfort, and resilience."


Question: If elected, how will you work to adopt updated building codes to support sustainable construction in Sioux Falls?


J. Deffenbaugh:  Coming from a family of home builders, I know firsthand the difficulties of balancing cost and features. Selling the concept of sustainable building practices to established builders can often be an uphill battle. The strategy that I feel would work best is to look at ordinances and codes within our zoning. Parking mandates, setback requirements, and other overreaching ordinances create the conditions where development is neither sustainable nor economically feasible. By easing these regulations, developments that were once not able to be built as infill can now be economically viable. 

Clean Vehicles
Role of City Council

The major responsibility of the City Council is to review and set policy for the city and to review and approve the annual city budget required to implement those policies.  Because the mayor holds one of the nine city Council seats and in fact chairs the City Council meetings when he is present, the City Council is not an independent legislative body representing the citizens of Sioux Falls, but rather a forum for the mayor’s office.


Question: If elected, what will you do to strengthen the legislative independence and capacity of the City Council?


J. Deffenbaugh:  The charter should be revised to move away from the strong mayor model and give more legislative power to the council. The strategy that is necessary to make this change is to build a coalition to push for this change. There are many people in this city that feel as though the mayor has far too much veto power. Those same people can push for a change in the charter and make the case for more checks and balances. 

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