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Politics

Taneeza Islam announces bid for mayor of Sioux Falls

An immigration lawyer and social justice advocate is running for mayor of the state’s largest city.

Taneeza Islam announced her candidacy in front of a mural near downtown Sioux Falls that celebrates the city’s diversity. Investing in a diverse future for Sioux Falls was a theme of Islam’s announcement.

Islam is executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace, a nonprofit that offers legal services for immigrants and lobbies at the state level. She gave examples of challenges her clients have faced that she says go unnoticed by city leadership—like language barriers to key services and limited transportation options.

“Our city cannot be strong when the divide between those that have access and wealth is growing, while those with the most need in our community are unseen," she told a crowd at Meldrum Park in Sioux Falls.

It was the same site where she'd organized an event in solidarity with DACA recipients in 2017, the same year she founded South Dakota Voices for Peace.

Islam said Hispanic and Asian communities are driving the population growth of Sioux Falls. She pointed to the school system as evidence.

“Today, the Sioux Falls School District is 60% white and 40% kids of color. This is our beautiful future. We need leadership that reflects that, and I am that person.”

Islam highlighted her family's history and her faith. Her parents immigrated to the United States from what is now Bangladesh. Islam said she's the first American-Muslim to run for city office in Sioux Falls. Islam said city leadership must take responsibility for creating a more equitable community.

The election is on April 12, 2022. Islam is running against incumbent Paul TenHaken and David Zokaites.

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