Serving as the Mayor of Sioux Falls isn't an easy job. It's one Mike Huether has held for almost seven years. During that time, we've seen highs and lows, big growth and even some national recognition.
While serving as 'mayor' is a one-person title, it's a role that wouldn't be possible without the woman who has been by his side for 35 years.
"Not only my best friend, bar none, my best adviser in the role," Mike Huether said. "I've had this dream since the 6th grade. It has far surpassed my expectations. Thanks, honey, for letting me talk about it at Pizza Hut on our first date."
But the challenges in public service are real. One of her biggest challenges, Cindy says, is maintaining a private life.
"Sometimes you want to go and get groceries. Someone always has a question, 'can I just take a minute of your time?' It's fine. But sometimes you just want to get groceries," she laughed.
"She doesn't let me go with her. We don't go together because what was supposed to be a 15 minute trip ends up being a 50 minute trip because I like to engage everyone. She just wants to get in and out of there," Mike said.
Another challenge, she says, is the criticism.
"When someone is in public service, they're doing what they think is best for people. I don't think people understand that sometimes. They say mean, hurtful things that they don't always realize that we are people and that you still feel bad when people say these things. I think now, we see it worldwide with social media. People never have to face someone and tell them things. They always hide behind social media. That's a real hard part. He takes it better than the rest of the family. That's been hard. Through the years you realize that's part of the deal," Cindy said.
But so far, the good times have outweighed anything else.
"I love this gig at the highest level and there's sometimes I ask why she doesn't love it as much as me," Mike laughed. "The impact on your health, emotional health, physical, mental, that is real. The impact on your family. That is certainly real. The ability to impact your community and others around you. That legacy you can leave. It's a motivating factor."
His proudest moments including building the new events center and new indoor facilities for ice skating, tennis and swimming. In addition, each year leading the Mayor's 4th of July Parade through downtown.
Soon, it will be someone else's turn. The Huether's say a life in politics is a decision families need to make together.
"We've certainly felt the love and support. I'd encourage people to jump in, get your feet wet and learn to swim like we did," they said. "Everyday we meet people that have ideas, 'have you thought of this or considered that'? and we ask ' have you considered running for office or being on a committee' and a lot of times they haven't."
Some advice they'd like to pass on to a future successor? Maintain focus.
"Listen to special interest groups but do not be beholden to them no matter how loud, passionate they are. Stay focused on the city and the citizens as a whole... A little controversial but one I truly believe in," he said.
Above all, this job is rewarding, they say. And it's something they choose to do together.
"You can make it be whatever you want it to be," Cindy said.
The mayor wants to keep serving South Dakotans in public office. In an earlier KSFY News exclusive, we found out what kind of public office he's thinking about.
He told KSFYs Brian Allen, "Yeah, I would love to be the Governor of South Dakota. I'd love to be the President of the United States. I'd love to represent South Dakota as their senator or representative."
During my visit, I learned it's a big decision they still haven't made,
"We don't know what is next. We haven't made any decisions. Nobody believes that," Mike said. "Our next goal, it's ours not just mine, we haven't set it or established it in stone yet."
The Mayor will continue serving Sioux Falls until voters elect someone new in April, 2018.