Tag Archives: Todd Kolden

Video of the Aberdeen School Board Candidate Forum

Aberdeen School Board Candidate Forum

*** Updated on May 8, 2017. The original post had the wrong version of this video. I have replaced it with a video that has the proper audio embedded. I apologize for the bad audio included in the original post.

Yesterday, May 7th, the League of Women Voters of Aberdeen, SD, and the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum in Aberdeen. There were two parts to the forum. The first part was the City Council Candidate Forum; which I highlighted in an earlier post. The second forum was for the Aberdeen School Board and will be the focus of this post.

Channel 7 will be broadcasting the event until election day. But for those of us who don’t have Cable TV I recorded the event and have it posted below. Alternatively you can click here to directly view the forum on YouTube.

There are five candidates running for three seats in this race. The five candidates running for Aberdeen School Board are:

  • Ken Santema – Facebook – That’s me…
  • Aaron Schultz – Facebook
  • Renee Wise – Facebook
  • Brian Sharp, incumbent – Facebook
  • Kevin Burckhard, incumbent – Facebook. Burckhard was not able to attend the forum.

The third incumbent, Todd Kolden, did not seek reelection (thank-you for your service Todd!).

Here is the video. It is just under an hour in length.

I will post more about the questions on my campaign Facebook page, and possibly here (blogging is much easier than Facebook posting).

SD Dist 3 State House Gen Election: Dennert, Kaiser, Briscoe, and Bootz

SD Legislative District 3
SD Legislative District 3

South Dakota legislative District 3 has  a general election for State Representative. District 3 encompasses most of Aberdeen. But it also goes out to encompass Bath and Prairiewood.

One of the Republican incumbents, Rep Al Novstrup, is seeking the State Senate seat being vacated by his son Sen David Novstrup. On the Republican side there was a three-way primary between incumbent Rep Dan Kaiser and fellow Republicans Drew Dennert and Todd Kolden. Kaiser and Dennert won the Republican primary and are on the general election ballot. The Democrats have put forth Brooks Briscoe and Nikki Bootz to try unseating the Republicans in District 3.

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.

*** 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.

Drew Dennert

Drew Dennert speaking with Shantel Krebs. Photo by Ken Santema 7/7/14.
Drew Dennert speaking with Shantel Krebs. Photo by Ken Santema 7/7/14.

Drew Dennert (R)
Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmartSoDakLiberty
SDPB Audio: 2016

Drew Dennert will quite possibly be the youngest person ever elected as a SD legislator if he wins in November. Dennert does not have a large online presence. But as I noted in the post about his primary election this blurb is available on his Facebook page:

I’m running for the South Dakota State House because we need principled conservative leaders representing us in Pierre.

As a conservative Republican I strongly believe in promoting a business friendly environment by reducing regulations and keeping taxes as low as possible.

My platform is simple. I want to stand up for South Dakotans right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Fighting for the right to life and protecting the unborn is at the core of my principles.

I also want to fight for South Dakotans liberty and pursuit of happiness, by protecting our God given rights.

If elected I will fight for more liberty and less government.

I would be honored to have your support!

To expand upon that Dennert has been handing out a door hanger with the following bullet points (yes, he has been going door to door and has made it to my house):

I promise to fight for you in Pierre to:

  • Support education

  • Promote job growth

  • Respect the will of the people

  • Protect our hunting heritage

  • Fight government corruption

  • Keep taxes low

  • Support community

  • Reduce regulations

Another interesting tidbit I find on his Facebook page is a post about buffer strips:

As a farmer and rancher I support the “waterway buffer strip bill.”

This is common sense legislation that is good for farmers, good for wildlife habitat and good for our waters.

If passed farmers would be able to receive a reduction in property taxes along the edge of rivers, sloughs and lakes if you plant a grass strip on the edge.

This will be completely voluntary for all farmers.

If elected I will support this legislation and hope we can pass a bill similar to this next year.

The bill in question during the 2016 session was SB 136 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 136 was vetoed by the Governor, and the legislature didn’t have the numbers to override that veto.

I have an in-person interview scheduled with Dennert coming up. During that I hope to get more about his thoughts relating to conservation and protecting our hunting heritage.

Daniel Kaiser

Rep Dan Kaiser speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/24/15.
Rep Dan Kaiser speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/24/15.

Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) – Incumbent
Website – Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmartOpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

For Kaiser I am simply going to repost what I wrote about him in my post about the District 3 Republican House Primary:

Kaiser does actually have an issues section on his website, which I will give him credit for.  But since he is an incumbent I would rather look at some key areas of his work as a legislator.

Also before going on I think it would be best to talk about the 2016 legislative session. Just days before the 2016 legislative session began Kaiser found out his son had been diagnosed with leukemia and would have to go through a series of treatments. Due to that Kaiser missed all but one day of the legislative session (he was there for Veto day). Personally I don’t think such a badly timed personal emergency sheds a bad light on him. But it is possible there are people who feel he should not be reelected due to missing a whole session. That is up to each voter to decide for his or her self.

One of the issues I have been blogging about over the last few years is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Kaiser happens to be one of the few legislators that actually brought up any possible misgivings about the Taiwan resolutions supporting TPP. Unfortunately Kaiser was not able to speak out against this years resolution HCR 1015 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which was the 2016 legislative session version of the Taiwan resolution.

Another issue that I think is important when talking about Kaiser is Common Core. Back in February of 2015 Kaiser led an effort to smokeout  HB 1223 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which would have ended South Dakota’s involvement in Common Core. The attempt to force HB 1223 did not completely succeed. But that doesn’t mean it was a failure. A social media #StandWithDan hashtag went viral (as far as anything purely SD political can go viral). Kaiser was able to breath new life into the battle against Common Core and give people hope this could become an issue for the 2016 election. I will be watching close this year to see if Common Core does become an issue for close races, especially west-river.

Finally I want to mention the fact that Kaiser shows his commitment to open government and transparency by posting each of his votes on Facebook. Just last year I commended Kaiser and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) for doing this. I wish more legislators would do this! It is a great way to see why a legislator voted in a way I would find wrong. It also happens to be a great way to possibly learn something about a bill that wasn’t mentioned in committee testimony (remember these legislators get constantly hounded by lobbyists, and not all of the lobbyists are bad).

Brooks Briscoe

Brooks Briscoe hanging a Vote sign at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 8/17/16.
Brooks Briscoe hanging a Vote sign at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 8/17/16.

Brooks Briscoe (D)
Facebook – Ballotpedia –VoteSmartSoDakLiberty
SDPB Audio: 2016

To learn about Brisco I found a second Facebook page linked off of his campaign Facebook page called 20 Reasons to Vote Brooks Briscoe to SD House of Representatives.  So far there are five reasons listed on the page:

#1 Equal Representation in the SD Legislature

Here is a snippet from this part of Briscoe’s reasons:

My opponents, Drew Dennert and Dan Kaiser, are both running on a platform of being “Conservative Republicans”, and I’m running as a moderate Democrat.

With that in mind District 3 and our state deserve representation for the majority of its registered voters with a fair, honest and progressive thinking member of the SD House of Representatives. A vote for me in November will help assure an unbiased, willing to compromise, common sense legislator in Pierre.

Briscoe goes on to give the statistics of how many people in Dist 3 and the state are registered with each party and Independent.  This is an approach I’ve seen many Democrats take in this election, especially with Constitutional Amendment T on the ballot this fall to decide the fate of legislative redistricting going forth.

#2 Pro 2nd Amendment, Anti NRA

Here is part of what Brisco has to say on reason number two:

Unfortunately, the NRA has become an advocate for the firearm and ammunition manufacturers as well as one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington D.C.
When our national congress is unable to pass legislation to prevent citizens on the No Fly List from buying weapons, when 90% of Americans are in favor of it, it’s obvious that corporate money and power has defeated the voice of Democracy.

I try to stay somewhat unbiased in these posts. But this one is hard for me. It scares me when a politician is willing to look at restricting a constitutionally protected right based upon a No Fly List that likely already goes against the 4th Amendment. But I do think separating his support for the 2nd Amendment from supporting the NRA may be a good move within his party.

#3 A Realistic Approach to Problem Solving

Here is what Briscoe has to say about taxes:

My opponent has stated that if elected his priority is to create jobs and build our economy by lowering taxes and decreasing regulations. In the same interview he stated a top priority was to increase teacher pay. In the real world you generally can’t have it both ways. All you have to do is look to states like Kansas and Louisiana that cut taxes on the wealthy and deregulated corporations (and now find themselves with huge deficits and dwindling education and infrastructure programs) to see that’s a plan for disaster. Meanwhile California (who recently increased taxes on the top percent and passed more corporate regulations) has one of the fastest growing economies and top 10 education, infrastructure and healthcare programs. I support job growth, improved education, rebuilding our infrastructure and expanding healthcare, but realize lowering taxes and deregulation is not the way to achieve it.

Briscoe is definitely taking a pro tax approach. In District 3 that might actually work better than other parts of the state. This might actually help him with the more progressive independents.

#4 Transparency on Upcoming Ballot Issues

Briscoe has shared his voting intentions on all 10 Ballot Questions this fall. Briscoe also points out his opponents have not let their intentions on these ballot questions be known.

#5. A WILLINGNESS TO COMPROMISE

Briscoe’s final reason is a willingness to compromise. Here is what Briscoe has to say about this:

While having strong values is a great personal trait, an uncompromising value system can be a hinderance for a public servant. As a legislator I would always be willing to compromise my personal values to help the progress of my constituents and state that I’m representing. My opponents have both claimed to have uncompromising values, posting statements like “…from my cold dead hands!”. That’s the kind of thinking that has caused our US Congress to be dubbed the “do nothing” congress we’ve come to know. A vote for me in November will assure my constituents of a person that can accomplish positive progress for the state of South Dakota.

Briscoe might be able to go after his opponents for this a little bit. But at the same time Kaiser might be safe from this attack because as a Republican he actually votes against cronyistic bills brought forth by Republicans more than the Democrats do.

For voters in District 3 it might be worth keeping an eye on Briscoe’s 20 reasons page to find out if he has more reasons to vote for him upcoming.

Nikki Bootz

Nikki Bootz. Photo from Bootz campaign Facebook page.
Nikki Bootz. Photo from Bootz campaign Facebook page.

Nikki Bootz (D)
Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmartSoDakLiberty
SDPB Audio: 2016

Nikkie Bootz doesn’t have a lot of recent activity on her campaign Facebook page. But she does have this in her About Section:

Nikki Bootz moved to Aberdeen, SD in 2009 and chose Aberdeen because it’s centrally located between various family members. Nikki considers Aberdeen the perfect place where she and her to call home and enjoys the people here. She was born in Hettinger, ND in 1983 and is a graduate of Lemmon High School. So far Aberdeen has proven to be a fantastic place to raise her two children.
Passionate about helping the residents of District 3 get proper representation, Nikki has serious views on specific political issues that directly affect her own family and yours. This is why she is running our House of Representatives.
Nikki’s heart lies in being able to see concrete changes in District 3. She has long been disappointed with the lack of courage that has made the elected in Aberdeen be content with what is given to the district. Not satisfied being just a bystander Nikki pledges to dedicate all of her efforts to ensuring that her district will be recognized for having leaders who can speak up for what the people of Aberdeen and Bath really need and not for what the state sees fit for them.
Nikki will be the element of change that this district needs and not just a mouthpiece of the party. She isn’t going to back down once she arrives in Pierre. Nikki will appreciate your vote in November.

That really doesn’t tell us much about Bootz’s priorities for legislation. Perhaps I can find some time to catch up with her in the next few weeks for an interview.

District 3 Republican primary candidates for SD State House

SD Legislative District 3. Most of Aberdeen + Bath. Screenshot of map from SD SOS website.
SD Legislative District 3. Most of Aberdeen + Bath. Screenshot of map from SD SOS website.

To kick off the brief look at candidates in the SD 2016 legislative primary races I will start with District 3. District 3 is in Brown county and is composed of most of Aberdeen plus Bath. Sen David Novstrup (R, Dist 3) is not seeking reelection this year and his dad Rep Al Novstrup (R, Dist 3) is switching houses to run for State Senate. That leaves Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) as the only incumbent in this race. There are two people looking to get a House seat: Drew Dennert and Todd Kolden. Whoever wins this race will go against Democrats Nikki Bootz and Brooks Briscoe in the general election this fall.

For full disclosure I do know two of the candidates, Kaiser and Dennert, very well and have only briefly met Kolden. I also happen to support both Kaiser and Dennert in this race. But I will treat this just like any other race when blogging and try to step back and be as fair as possible.

Here is a brief look at the three candidates. Since I actually live in District 3 I plan to find time to do an interview with all three candidates some time in the next couple of weeks. The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

Drew Dennert

Drew Dennert (R)
Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Drew Dennert picture taken from his candidate Facebook page on 4/27/16.
Drew Dennert picture taken from his candidate Facebook page on 4/27/16.

Dennert doesn’t give a lot to learn about him on his social media accounts. Here is a blurb he put on Facebook:

I’m running for the South Dakota State House because we need principled conservative leaders representing us in Pierre.

As a conservative Republican I strongly believe in promoting a business friendly environment by reducing regulations and keeping taxes as low as possible.

My platform is simple. I want to stand up for South Dakotans right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Fighting for the right to life and protecting the unborn is at the core of my principles.

I also want to fight for South Dakotans liberty and pursuit of happiness, by protecting our God given rights.

If elected I will fight for more liberty and less government.

I would be honored to have your support!

Those are pretty standard Republican talking points. Hopefully between the upcoming Republican forum and an in-person interview I can get more information to post about Dennert’s stances on issues.

An interesting side-note is that Drew Dennert happens to the grandson of former state legislator Paul Dennert (they are probably polar opposites politically).

Daniel Kaiser (R)

Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) – Incumbent
Website – Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmartOpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

State Representative Dan Kaiser on the SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/24/15.
State Representative Dan Kaiser on the SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/24/15.

Kaiser does actually have an issues section on his website, which I will give him credit for.  But since he is an incumbent I would rather look at some key areas of his work as a legislator.

Also before going on I think it would be best to talk about the 2016 legislative session. Just days before the 2016 legislative session began Kaiser found out his son had been diagnosed with leukemia and would have to go through a series of treatments. Due to that Kaiser missed all but one day of the legislative session (he was there for Veto day). Personally I don’t think such a badly timed personal emergency sheds a bad light on him. But it is possible there are people who feel he should not be reelected due to missing a whole session. That is up to each voter to decide for his or her self.

One of the issues I have been blogging about over the last few years is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Kaiser happens to be one of the few legislators that actually brought up any possible misgivings about the Taiwan resolutions supporting TPP. Unfortunately Kaiser was not able to speak out against this years resolution HCR 1015 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which was the 2016 legislative session version of the Taiwan resolution.

Another issue that I think is important when talking about Kaiser is Common Core. Back in February of 2015 Kaiser led an effort to smokeout  HB 1223 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which would have ended South Dakota’s involvement in Common Core. The attempt to force HB 1223 did not completely succeed. But that doesn’t mean it was a failure. A social media #StandWithDan hashtag went viral (as far as anything purely SD political can go viral). Kaiser was able to breath new life into the battle against Common Core and give people hope this could become an issue for the 2016 election. I will be watching close this year to see if Common Core does become an issue for close races, especially west-river.

Finally I want to mention the fact that Kaiser shows his commitment to open government and transparency by posting each of his votes on Facebook. Just last year I commended Kaiser and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) for doing this. I wish more legislators would do this! It is a great way to see why a legislator voted in a way I would find wrong. It also happens to be a great way to possibly learn something about a bill that wasn’t mentioned in committee testimony (remember these legislators get constantly hounded by lobbyists, and not all of the lobbyists are bad).

Todd Kolden

Todd Kolden (R)
Facebook – Ballotpedia –VoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Todd Kolden picture from his Facebook campaign page on 4/27/16.
Todd Kolden picture from his Facebook campaign page on 4/27/16.

Kolden does provide a post down in his Facebook feed with some issues. Here is what he has to say:

I feel it’s an honor to have this opportunity to continue serving the district and state I grew up in. Before I provide a synopsis of where I stand on issues, I want to point out that I have no personal agenda (personal agenda’s do not belong in the legislature), I have an open mind and always listen to my constituents.
The statements below are not all inclusive and I will not commit to legislation one way or another until I see the details of what is being proposed.

• I support Veterans.
Our state has done a good job supporting veterans but I believe we still have room to improve. Improve healthcare, specifically suicide awareness and assisting veterans overcoming this crisis. Improve job opportunities, specifically strengthening veteran’s preference in public employment and improved assistance in their transition from military to civilian life.

• I support K-12 Education.
The 2016 legislative session took a huge step in addressing the teacher shortage. It was a very difficult decision to raise the state sales tax, one that I mulled over very seriously. One thing to remember, this wasn’t directly related to raising teacher salaries, it was to become competitive with our surrounding states, recruiting quality teachers and retaining them. I put my trust in the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Task force and would have supported their recommendation. I am not one for raising taxes but at some point you have to ask, are we serious about addressing this or not. As I said, I have an open mind and would have listened to any and all options but in my opinion, there was never a viable option presented (new funding and being sustainable). I think as Republicans, we should be proud that our state still has one of the lowest sales tax base in the country. However, I do feel the legislature should have had more time to debate the Governor’s education package, specifically HB1182 and SB131. I would have supported a conference committee to further address SB131 and the amendments that were presented. I’m always happy to discuss this further. With that being said, I don’t feel we are done with education funding.
I also support school districts having firm local control.

• I support Government Transparency.
This has been near the top of my list for the past number of years. Representative Al Novstrup (Senator later this year), has been at the forefront of this transparency push and I support what he has done thus far. He realizes more needs to be done and I would most likely support him. But again, I would need to see the details of any proposed bill before getting on board.

• I support Economic Development.
Simply said, this would include better paying jobs, improved business climate (in particular, small businesses), improved training for those seeking skilled jobs, and filling those hard-to-fill skilled positions. I have 12 years of experience in this area and would bring this to the legislature.

• 2nd Amendment Rights.
I have always supported the right to bear arms and always will. I admit, I don’t beat the drum on this issue because I’ve never felt threatened to have my guns taken away or restricted. However, if I ever felt that threat, I would meet it head on.

• Medicaid.
I do not support expanding Medicaid at this point, simply because from what I see, our state can’t afford it. Again, I’m willing to consider any proposed legislation.

• Community Support.
I would generally support legislation that would provide better support and control to our counties and cities. Again, details…

• Agriculture/Farms.
I have never farmed but know many who do. Farming and agriculture are a huge part of our state and quite frankly, they have a large hand in feeding our state, country, and the world. I would support legislation that keeps our agriculture industry striving to be successful. I believe that if agriculture is successful, it will assist our state being successful.

• Fiscally Conservative.
Simply said, you don’t spend what you don’t have. Reserves should be preserved and used only when absolutely needed. Increasing taxes is not the answer.

• Methamphetamine abuse.
This destructive drug needs to be further addressed. The “Meth” dealers need to be removed from our society and we need to assist the users in getting the help they need to break their addiction.

For the People, Serving South Dakota

I wish Kolden would pin the above post on his Facebook page so people wouldn’t have to dig for it. But I will give him credit for talking about a number of issues. As a current member of the Aberdeen School District School Board I would like to hear what fiscally conservative issues he has fought for on the school board level. I look forward to speaking with Kolden and possibly expanding upon a couple of his issues listed above.