Joe Kirby

Joe Kirby

Joe Kirby, of Sioux Falls, formerly led Western Surety Company and worked as an accountant and lawyer. He helped lead a successful effort to modernize Sioux Falls city government in the 1990s and continues to advocate for government reform. He blogs at

A sign identifies a polling place during a city and school election on June 6, 2023, in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Open primaries: Advocating for fair and competitive elections

By: - November 29, 2023

South Dakota has a closed primary election system which discourages competition, encourages hyper partisanship and excludes hundreds of thousands of voters from a meaningful role in our elections. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Luckily, there is an alternative election system available for voters to consider next November. South Dakotans who show up […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tough to evaluate other penitentiary location options without transparency

By: - October 31, 2023

South Dakota is finally moving forward on the long overdue replacement of its men’s penitentiary near downtown Sioux Falls. It announced a new site and a timeline for the move. However, the process for selecting a replacement site has raised questions and concerns from the public. In recent decades, downtown Sioux Falls has grown into […]