District 29 Senate Representatives

Courtesy photo

BLACK HILLS — Citizens head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3 to elect candidates for District 29 Senate Representative. The Black Hills Pioneer sent a candidate questionnaire to the individuals vying for one position, which carries a two-year term. The candidates’ answers are published below as received. When necessary, answers were edited slightly for length.

Gary Cammack

Name and what do you do for a living?

Gary Cammack.  My wife and I operate a ranch supply store and cattle ranch in Central Meade County

What motivated you to run for this office?

I want to be involved in the decision-making process that effects agricultural producers and business people.  I am the Grandfather of 10 grandchildren and I wanted to assure that they have a good education and every opportunity possible in the future.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

Raising four sons, 10 grandchildren and 48 years of marriage, 47 years of business experience and being a lifelong resident of Meade County.  All of these things enable me to make good decisions on behalf of the citizens of District 29.

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

I served four years as Meade County Commissioner, two years in SD House of Representatives and six years in the SD Senate.  I served as President of SD Retailers for two years, on Board of Directors Dakota Resources and Dakotas America, Central Meade County Community Center, Baptist Church, GFP Advisory Board.

How many local governmental meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

Several dozen.

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal newspaper?

Yes

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your district?

Education, infrastructure, property tax.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

Make sure dollars available are spent in a wise and appropriate manner and constantly looking for ways to make the property tax system fair and equitable.

What do you believe is working for your district and how will you retain that progression?

The local communities have done a good job on focusing on economic development and I intend to do all I can to continue that development.

What is the single most important stance you want to take if elected to the legislature?

Continue to provide for the needs of the state while providing a balanced budget as we have done for the last 125 plus years.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Take whatever opportunities I have to encourage continued economic growth and strengthen the agricultural economy.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I have served as Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee for six years, I have served as President Pro Tem in the Senate and if elected I intend to seek the position of Senate Majority Leader.

How should the state prioritize its budget given the strong likelihood that revenue will likely be lower in the coming year than in years’ past?

According to all indications revenues should be higher than last year.  It’s the job of State government to provide for education of our children, infrastructure (road, bridges, broadband) and adequately provide for law enforcement.

Newspapers publish legal notices and meeting minutes for local governments and do so as an independent third-party while maintaining a permanent record for these. So you support this preferred method of informing local taxpayers? Why or why not?

Newspapers provide a valuable permanent record, having said that, both newspapers and government have to be flexible and innovative ways of doing their jobs.

Gov. Kristi Noem did not mandate quarantines, mask wearing, and other measures that most other states implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, she promoted large gatherings such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, fairs, rodeos, and Fourth of July celebrations. Do you support the way she has handled the pandemic? Why or why not?

I support the way she handled the pandemic.  Her strategy depended upon personal responsibility, comparing our results of flattening the curve and keeping our businesses and state open we faired very well compared to other states.

South Dakota has made strides in requiring more transparency in government. But, there is always that could be done. What would you like to see become more transparent in state government?

It is always wise to seek opportunities to improve the system, and to strive for continued improvement in state government.

Two ballot measures before the public this year are the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana. So you support either ballot measure? Why or why not?

I do not support the legalization of marijuana and I don’t believe that any change like that should be in the form of a constitutional amendment.

A ballot measure changing the state constitution in South Dakota to allow for sports betting in Deadwood is up to the voters this year. Do you support this constitutional amendment? Why or why not?

I have been consistently opposed to any expansion of gambling in the state of South Dakota, having said that, I wont be in favor of abolishing any current gaming that is legal at this time in South Dakota.

Kent Wilsey

Name and what do you do for a living?

Kent Wilsey, I am a small farmer and rancher, now.  I was an Aerospace Engineer for 20 years, designing and analyzing aircraft and spacecraft structures.

What motivated you to run for this office?

First, I hate taxes.  Second, I am running to give people a choice.  Without me, this race would have been decided in the Republican primary.  I’m running to give the people in District 29 a real small government, low tax option.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

While nobody knows everything about every issue, I have the ability to think things through, from all sides, and really understand issues.  I listen, even when I don’t agree.  However, I will always vote for less government authority, less taxes, and more personal authority and responsibility.

With regards to leadership, what other elected public or nonprofit offices have you held?

I’ve been on the Lakeside Township board for the last 5 years.

How many local governmental meetings have you attended within the last year and during your candidacy?

I’ve attended all the Lakeside Township meetings in the last year.

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal newspaper?

Yes

What are the most important issues that need to be addressed in your district?

Forced annexation, taxation, and education.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

I will write a bill to make annexation into a municipality voluntary only.  I will fight to keep your taxes as low as possible.  I will work to encourage homeschooling and private schools.

What do you believe is working for your district and how will you retain that progression?

Not having a state income tax.  Sometime in the next two years, I expect the entire country, including South Dakota, to have major financial issues.  I expect the federal government to insist that “help” from them will only come to states that have their own income tax, and I expect our legislatures to yield to that.  I will not.

What is the single most important stance you want to take if elected to the legislature?

Continued fiscal responsibility and minimizing the size and authority of state government.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

We need to work on improving education in South Dakota.  I firmly believe that to do that we need to engage private individuals and private enterprise.  So, I would like to have a clause in our funding rules that would allow school districts to give scholarships to kids within the district to either be homeschooled, or attend a private school, and have those kids counted for the states funding formula.  Of course, parents and the district would have to sign that accepting the funds absolves the district from all authority and responsibility for the child’s education.

What else do you want people to know about you?

As an engineer, I’m a problem solver.  I dig down to find the real reasons for issues, rather than looking for someone to blame, or an easy fix.

How should the state prioritize its budget given the strong likelihood that revenue will likely be lower in the coming year than in years’ past?

The Declaration of Independence states “...and that to preserve these rights, governments are instituted among men.”  We need to pare all government down to the minimum required to preserve citizen’s rights.

Newspapers publish legal notices and meeting minutes for local governments and do so as an independent third-party while maintaining a permanent record for these. So you support this preferred method of informing local taxpayers? Why or why not?

Yes.  Along with putting such notices and minutes on the organization’s websites.

Gov. Kristi Noem did not mandate quarantines, mask wearing, and other measures that most other states implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, she promoted large gatherings such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, fairs, rodeos, and Fourth of July celebrations. Do you support the way she has handled the pandemic? Why or why not?

Gov. Noem early on was reported to ask the key question ‘do I even have the authority to do that?’  If she made any errors on this issue, she has erred on the side of personal freedom and responsibility, which is right.  Praise God, South Dakota has had relatively small rates of infection.

South Dakota has made strides in requiring more transparency in government. But, there is always that could be done. What would you like to see become more transparent in state government?

Agricultural propery tax assesments are very difficult, if not impossible, to understand.  Each ag assesment mailed out should include a clear explanation of exactly how the assesment was calculated.  The law is quite clear, but the implementation appears intentionally obfuscated.

Two ballot measures before the public this year are the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana. So you support either ballot measure? Why or why not?

I’ve never used marijuana.  But I support the passing of these measures because it is ridiculous and wasteful to use police and court resources to arrest people for doing something that doesn’t hurt anyone else.  Even worse to waste those resources to prosecute a person for doing something they potentially is beneficial.

A ballot measure changing the state constitution in South Dakota to allow for sports betting in Deadwood is up to the voters this year. Do you support this constitutional amendment? Why or why not?

I support it.  But I ask why it’s limited to such a small area?  Why not make gambling legal throughout the state?  Is it immoral and harmful unless it’s in Deadwood?

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