SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The next Sioux Falls City Council election is only seven months away and several people have already thrown their names into the hat to run.
But a council vote Tuesday night is throwing a curve ball at candidates.
Candidates will need more votes to win, following an election amendment that increases the vote threshold from 34% to 51%.
“It's going to require someone with deep pockets to win,” candidate Clara Hart said.
Hart was one of the first candidates to announce her plans to run in the 2018 election, but a vote from the council is changing the race.
“I didn't really feel like I was elected (in 2010). Never have until 2014 when I was elected by 65%,” Councilor Rex Rolfing said. He and Michelle Erpenbach brought the amendment forward.
The amendment would require city council candidates to win 51% of the vote.
If no one wins the threshold, another election will be held three weeks later for the top two candidates.
Campaigns can cost thousands of dollars and this could add to those costs.
“People are going to run three extra weeks of election. Is not as much of a money commitment as it is a time commitment,” Rolfing said.
“I'm not changing anything I had planned. I planned on soliciting donors and I’ll continue to do that,” Hart said.
“I do understand the thought process behind the proposed amendment,” candidate Zach DeBoer said.
DeBoer is running for city council also. He gave public comment Tuesday night.
“Five council candidates having already announced and are actively campaigning, and with two of you likely also running again, feels like this is maybe a discussion that should have happened months ago,” he said.
Some former council members feel like the idea was rushed.
“My takeaway from all of it was maybe we could have had a committee meeting review this in detail. Talk about the pros and cons, talk about potential unintended consequences. How did we get here, how are we here, and the fact that the way that voting is done today,” former city council member Greg Jamison said.
City councilors who voted in favor of the amendment don’t think so.
“They did it in such a way where it wasn’t a surprise amendment at the last minute. They actually brought it forward last week and mentioned an amendment would be offered,” Councilor Rick Kiley said.
Councilor Theresa Stehly voted against the amendment.
“I want to investigate avenues by which we can let the citizens vote on this because right now it's a done deal. The people running in 2018 are going to have to jump through this higher threshold,” she said.
“As they say, the voters are the last people to say,” Hart said.
The state legislature, county and Sioux Falls school board all use a plurality vote for their elections.
Many other city councils across the state use this method as well.