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Tea City Council Election to be held April 11

Tea City Council elections will be held next Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at City Hall, located at 600 E. 1st Street. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Two will be vying for one Ward 3 two-year seat. Those candidates include incumbent Ruby Zuraff and challenger Bob Evans.

Two candidates will also vying for one Ward 1 two-year seat. Candidates include Joe Weis, incumbent and Michael LeVan, challenger.

Aaron Otten, current Council member for Ward 2, is running unopposed. A City of Tea Ward Map is pictured below.

If the polls cannot be opened because of bad weather, the election may be postponed one week.

Any voter who needs assistance, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, may contact the municipal finance officer at 605-498-5193 before the election for information on polling place accessibility for people with disabilities. Sample ballots can be found on page 7.

Tea Weekly sent questionnaires to each of the candidates, what follows at right are their responses:

Joe Weis Ward 1, Incumbent

Q: What motivated you to run for City Council, and what are your primary goals for the city?

A: Jo Niles called and asked me to run for council. She had been in for many years and wanted to step away. My goal was to do my part to keep Tea a safe family friendly community.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: I have an Associates degree from Southeast Tech and have been a Tea resident for 35 years.

Q: How do you plan to engage with residents and businesses to understand their concerns and priorities for the city?

A: Some residents have called me, otherwise, I talk to other shoppers or business people when at their business

Q: What is your vision for the city’s future, and how do you plan to work with other Council members to achieve that vision?

A: I would like to see more affordable housing in Tea and keep taxes as low as possible. Most of my contact with other Council members is during meetings. Transparency is very important.

Q: Who does your family include?

A: I am single with no children. My Dad grew up in Tea and my Grandparents lived here since 1919.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests?

A: My hobbies are golfing poorly and reading. I am a member of the Tea Historical Society.

Michael LeVan Ward 1, Challenger

Q: What motivated you to run for City Council, and what are your primary goals for the city?

A: We need to care less about whether someone has to walk a block or two and we should care more about whether our city is worthy of a one or two-block walk. I want to create a city that has a place for everyone and the way we do this is not with some grandiose plan, but by thinking small and on a human scale.

Let’s ask ourselves, “What is the easiest and cheapest thing we can do today to improve our city?” And then let’s do that thing! When we make good decisions day in and day out, we will see positive progress. And when we change our policies so that small actions are allowed we will enable our children and those starting out to have a place where they can build their lives.

Implementing this will require a drastic shift in our thinking - a shift that I feel will be easier to facilitate by having a seat on the council myself.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: After graduating from Tea Area High School in 2011, I earned a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Physics from Augustana College in Sioux Falls in 2015. I have since been working as a software developer.

Q: How do you plan to engage with residents and businesses to understand their concerns and priorities for the city?

A: I’m a fan of the good old-fashioned knocking on someone’s door. I also interact on social media and pay attention to the ‘Tea Connect’ page.

Q: What is your vision for the city’s future, and how do you plan to work with other Council members to achieve that vision?

A: I would like to see Tea become a safe, prosperous, and financially resilient city. There is an organization called Strong Towns that has provided us (and the world) with a framework for creating a place that we can be proud of. I will listen to my fellow council members and help to guide everyone towards decisions that will help us build a stronger town for ourselves.

Ruby Zuraff Ward 3, Incumbent

Q: What motivated you to run for City Council, and what are your primary goals for the city?

A: I have had 4+ years serving as a Board Member for Tea Chamber for Development, previously known as Tea Economic Development Corporation. I had the privilege of serving 2 years as the President of the Chamber during my time. During my involvement with the Chamber, I was also actively attending City Council meetings. In 2022 I was appointed for Ward 3 to fill the vacancy for the current year. I feel I have learned a lot on the Council and enjoy being a part of the Community. Previously, serving as the only female on the Council, I enjoyed being able to bring a different perspective and being able to serve our Community. I have lived in Tea for many years and feel strongly about positive growth and making an impact.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: My husband and I own a successful sanitation business. We proudly serve Tea and surrounding communities. I have years of Chamber, City Council, and Volunteer experience. I have a great working relationship with business community in Tea and have built relationships outside of Tea such as Jessie Fonkert with Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. I look forward to more opportunities to learn and further my education in ways to build, grow, and benefit our Tea community.

Q: How do you plan to engage with residents and businesses to understand their concerns and priorities for the city?

A: I plan to be available for our residents and present at City Council. I want to build on the strong relationships I have and want people to know I care. I am here for the people of Tea. I will be at community events and will listen to concerns for our community members.

Q: What is your vision for the city’s future, and how do you plan to work with other Council members to achieve that vision?

A: My vision for the City of Tea is strong! Our community has endless potential and has a very bright future. I will continue to show up to City Council meetings and be involved with our development and infrastructure. We have lived in our neighborhood for over 10 years. I feel we have always need a park in our area and I am excited that there has been several discussions on what that might look like. I will continue to keep the discussion open for our ward and move forward with planning for open green space. There has been discussions of options such as playground equipment, trails, dog park or splash pad. I will be a positive voice for residents!

Q: Who does your family include?

A: My husband Justin and I have been married for 18 years. We have four children Daniel 16, Titus 14, Emma 11, and Finley 6. And rowdy, loving, puppies, Hunter & Annie.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests?

A: We are busy running our Family Owned Business. We are actively involved in basketball, cheer, softball, and church activities. We enjoy camping as a family during the summer. I also enjoy taking pictures and doing crafts

Bob Evans Ward 3, Challenger

Q: What motivated you to run for City Council, and what are your primary goals for the city?

A: I have lived in a small town most of my life. By living in a small town, you get to know different people other than your next door neighbors. I feel this still happens in Tea due in part by Tea Pot Days, Homecoming Parade, 4th of July, etc.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: I graduated from Dell Rapids St. Mary High School and worked on my family farm until my father passed away. I have been in operations management for most of my professional carrier. I current am the Senior Warehouse Manager for Sullivans Inc. in Sioux Falls.

Q: How do you plan to engage with residents and businesses to understand their concerns and priorities for the city?

A: My wife and I being in Tea boosters and my daughter is in 7th grade and currently active in activities in the Tea school system. I will be visible if anyone needs to talk.

Q: What is your vision for the city’s future, and how do you plan to work with other Council members to achieve that vision?

A: I moved to Tea in 2007 and want to maintain small town values, but entertain big city dreams. Not being on the current board, I have been attending current city council meetings to understand how they work and have introduced myself to the mayor.

Q: Who does your family include?

A: My wife Krista, who works at Fairway Foods in Tea as the assistant manager, my daughter Jovie who is in 7th grade in Tea, 2 older daughters (Domonie and Chantel), and 2 step sons (Brenden and Evan) both graduated from Tea High School.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests?

A: Like all other parents, our life is dictated by our children. Our daughter Jovie is a competitive cheer leader. She currently is on the TAHS competitive cheer team and Dakota Spirit cheer team in Sioux Falls. When we are not attending cheer competitions (9 months a year), we enjoy the outdoors and camp

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