South Dakota legislative District 4 has a general election for State Representative. District 4 is a rather large district on the eastern border of South Dakota. Towns in this district include Albee, Altamont, Astoria, Aurora, Big Stone City, Brandt, Bruce, Bushnell, Clear Lake, Elkton, Florence, Gary, Goodwin, Henry, Kranzburg, La Bolt, Marvin, Milbank, Revillo, Sinai, South Shore, Stockholm, Strandburg, Toronto, Twin Brooks, Volga, Wallace, and White. Arlington has a small piece of the town on the east side of Hwy 14 inside District 4, otherwise most of Arlington is in district 22. Brookings is in its own district (7) that protrudes into what looks like it should be District 4.
The District 4 House race is interesting because none of the four candidates seeking the two seats are incumbents. One of the incumbents, Republican Rep John Wiik, is seeking the State Senate seat. The other incumbent Republican Rep Fred Deutsch withdrew his name and was replaced by the party. John Mills of Volga was chosen by the Republicans to replace Deutsch on the ballot. Mills is joined by Jason Kettwig to represent the Republicans on the general election ballot. The Democrats have Matt Rosdahl and Peggy Schuelke to represent their party in the general election.
Here is a brief look at all four candidates. The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate. Since none of these candidates are current or former legislators I will look at their online presence to see if anything can be learned about their legislative priorities.
*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.
John Mills replaced Rep Fred Deutsch on the ballot and hails from the Volga area. Mills hasn’t really offered a lot about where he actually stands on his campaign Facebook. But he did provide audio for SDPB. Click here to listen to the audio.
In the SDPB audio Mills says the “property tax system needs to continue to be monitored and adjusted.” In particular he talked about how renters are treated. Rental properties are treated as commercial property and get a much higher property tax rate. Those higher property taxes get passed on to the renters. So Mills believes it is unfair that renters are paying a much higher tax rate than residential property owners. Mills said he believes the property taxes should be equalized on housing so there is the same rate whether a residence is owned or rented.
Mills did include a little about him in a press release sent out in June:
In addition to owning his own business, Mills has served as a board member on the Brookings Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor on the Brookings County Conservation District, and served as an Elder at Peace Lutheran Church in Brookings. He and his wife, Joy, have two married children and five grandchildren.
There isn’t much more to learn about Mills online. Perhaps as the election gets sooner I’ll catch up with him (my hometown is Volga, and I get there as much as I can).
Jason W. Kettwig
Kettwig also fails to get any real legislative priorities or issues on his campaign Facebook page. But he does have the following in his About section:
I am running for the District 4 house seat because I feel I bring a unique amount of experience to the job. With my experience in local government, I feel that I can bring a real world perspective to Pierre that will benefit the small communities in District 4. Growing up on a rural farm outside of Hazel, SD, I love and appreciate the small town way of life and will work to ensure that the small communities have a voice in Pierre.
I have been a resident of Milbank, SD since July 2003 which is when my brother, Josh, and I purchased the local Taco Johns. I became the City Administrator in June 2005.
Prior to moving to Milbank, I spent four years in the Army on Active Duty stationed at Ft. Hood, TX. Upon returning to SD, I joined the South Dakota National Guard which is where I have spent the remainder of my 21 years of military service. I was deployed to Iraq December 2003 – February 2005 and to Afghanistan May 2010 – May 2011. I am currently the battalion commander for the 139th Brigade Support Battalion out of Brookings.
An article for the Valley Express includes this from Kettwig:
Jason explained that he will continue to work hard for the community of Milbank. “If elected, there will be an adjustment period for the City of Milbank just like the adjustment period that every employer goes through when they send a representative to Pierre. It is the nature of our representative form of government. The staff at the City of Milbank are a wonderful group of people and everyone will adjust. With today’s technology, I will still be available to the citizens of Milbank during the time that we are in session.”
Hopefully Kettwig is letting people know is actual legislative priorities as he travels the district.
Rosdahl has a very active campaign Facebook page. I would suggest voters in District 4 scroll through and read his posts. He really gives a good idea of where he stands on a number of issues. But for this post I will focus on what he says in the About section of his FB page:
I will represent the interests of all my constituents in District 4 first, the state of the South Dakota second, the region third, and finally the country as a whole. I will not get caught up in party politics. My priorities lie with the people I represent over party and I will vote with conviction for what I think is right.
As a whole I think that we need to work towards more transparency in our government. We have seen what single party dominance can do in our great state with the Republican Party at the helm. Let’s get more Democrats to Pierre so that we can work towards our shared goals of making our state the best that it can be.
The first policy area that I feel strongly about is education. I feel that the teacher pay bills signed into law this legislative session are a good start. The problem that I have with the plan is in its implementation. The ratio formula for the funding is dangerous. In my opinion if it is left alone we will see many small schools close their doors in the next five years. As an active teacher I want to add my perspective to the discussion and find a way to keep teacher pay competitive with other states while also assuring that our small schools have the resources they need to not only stay open but to thrive.
Secondly growing up on my family’s farm in rural Minnesota and living in a rural community I understand the importance of agriculture and agri-business on our region and our state. I am dedicated to being a voice for the farmers in District 4 and throughout the state of South Dakota. I pledge to meet with the local farmers and ag producers regularly to hear, work to understand, and voice their concerns.
Third I feel that on the local level we need to do what we can to create jobs and opportunities in our rural areas. We need to pass legislation that promotes companies to invest in our communities while also working to keep the existing businesses in place.
I think the above does a pretty good job letting constituents know what Rosdahl’s legislative priorities are. I wish more politicians would have a similar listing of legislative priorities available so voters know more about potential candidates.
Two areas Rosdahl called out in his SDPB interview were Medicaid Expansion and the Internet Sales Tax. As a Democrat he believes it is the right thing financially and morally to expand Medicaid in South Dakota. Additionally Rosdahl mentioned support for SB 106 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which provides for the State of South Dakota to collect sales tax from internet sales.
Peggy Schuelke doesn’t have a lot of activity on her campaign Facebook page this time around. But she does have a campaign website. The website also includes an issues page. Here are the seven issues she has listed:
- Healthcare. As nurse Schuelke believes SD should expand Medicaid.
- Education. Schuelke advocates for local control of community schools. She also wants to provide “adequate funding” for education at the state level. The section on education also mentions increasing teacher salaries. This might be left over on the website from when she ran in 2014, or perhaps she doesn’t feel the teacher pay increase went far enough.
- Jobs. Schuelke wants to “promote the development of industry that would provide a living wage to more of our citizens”.
- Guns. Here is here whole section on guns: “Hunting is a favored family pastime. Peggy fully supports responsible gun ownership.”
- Agriculture. As the owner of a family farm Schuelke would “work to support and protect farmers in our state”.
- Energy. Schuelke supports ethanol production and wind energy.
- Internet. Schuelke believes investments should be made in the cyber infrastructure for a variety of reasons.
Here is what Schuelke has to say in a Valley Express article:
“I believe that we need to concentrate on legislation that makes life better for the people of South Dakota. Medicaid expansion is a priority. As a health care provider, I have seen many examples of people who have not obtained necessary medical care because they fall into the insurance gap that Medicaid expansion was supposed to fill,” Schuelke stated. “South Dakota has left millions of dollars unclaimed that would have benefited our citizens and our state.”
Medicaid expansion definitely appears to be a priority for her campaign.