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Paul TenHaken’s path to Sioux Falls City Hall

May 14, 2018

This photo taken May 1, 2018, shows Paul TenHaken talking to attendees as results come in for the mayoral elections in Sioux Falls, S. D. Most of Sioux Falls knows TenHaken. But few know the details of how the 40-year-old founder of Click Rain went from a middle-class upbringing in rural Minnesota to being a week away from becoming Sioux Falls' 27th mayor. (Briana Sanchez/The Argus Leader via AP)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Most of Sioux Falls knows Paul TenHaken.

But few know the details of how the 40-year-old founder of Click Rain went from a middle-class upbringing in rural Minnesota to being a week away from becoming Sioux Falls’ 27th mayor.

Born and raised about 60 miles east on Interstate 90, TenHaken called Worthington, Minnesota, home until moving to Sioux Falls 18 years ago.

It was there, in his hometown, where he says he learned the value of both hard work and a dollar, bagging groceries at Hy-Vee to pay for a rusted-out 1980 Pontiac LaMonte.

“I paid a grand in cash for it,” he said. “It had bench seats, and it was rusted out. I’d polish and shine that thing. I was so proud of it because I bought it with my own money.”

Though his middle-class parents had the means to buy him the car, keep his gas tank full and his insurance up-to-date, TenHaken said they made him carry the burdens of automobile ownership himself. Like any child, it took him awhile to figure out why.

“It always frustrated me because I knew my parents had the means to help me out more, but they didn’t, and it instilled in me a really strong work ethic.”

The Argus Leader reports that Overcoming challenges is something he learned young as well.

Though he was colorblind, he enrolled at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, as an art major where he got his start in the digital marketing world. To get by in his graphic design classes — a primary necessity for anyone in the marketing field — he studied the color codes in the computer programs students used at the time.

It must’ve worked.

After graduating in 2000 and moving to Sioux Falls, TenHaken quickly made a name for himself in the city’s tech and business communities.

But before the money starting flowing in from Click Rain, which he founded as a one-man startup in 2008, TenHaken used the athletic world to help him make ends meet.

TenHaken’s friend Mike Heineman was transitioning into leadership of the Skyforce, Sioux Falls’ semi-professional basketball team, and he was looking for someone to be the team’s mascot “Thunder.”

“I followed hoops religiously,” TenHaken said. “I was 22 years old, and I like to have fun. And it actually paid really well.”

He’s also an athlete himself. A sponsored “Ironman,” TenHaken has competed in dozens of high-profile, long-distance triathlons where athletes compete in swimming, running and bicycling events. And more recently he’s excelled in obstacle course events called “Spartan Races,” so much so he was invited to compete in a televised event on NBC in 2016.

While he had to step away from his business before entering the political arena, he said he plans to continue competing in sporting events while serving at City Hall, though he admits his opportunities to compete will be more limited.

“I’m signed up to do a half Ironman in Madison, Wisconsin, next month, and I think I’m going to still do it,” he said. “I’m not in shape for it ... but I think there’s an example you can set as a mayor with the things you do in your private time.”

TenHaken said he hopes to incorporate his passion for physical wellness into city programming through the health department and the Live Well Sioux Falls initiative.

Through it all, he said his Christian values motivate him. And that’s no secret as it’s come up on the campaign trail, most starkly when he was criticized for declining an invitation to participate in a mayoral debate on a Sunday.

While his faith will be a part of his approach to leadership, he’s said repeatedly it won’t dictate his policies beyond being compassionate for people. And it won’t keep him from doing the city’s business on Sundays either, should the need arise, after he’s sworn in May 15.

“I got beat up over that, but I get this is a 24-7 job — I realize when a sewer main breaks on Sunday morning, I can’t say, ‘Well, I got church this morning,’” he said. “I don’t just sit on my hands on Sunday.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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