Election 2020: District 29 Representatives

Courtesy photo

MEADE COUNTY — Citizens head to the polls on Tuesday, June 2, to elect District 29 Representatives. The Black Hills Pioneer sent a candidate questionnaire to the individuals vying for two positions, which carries a 2-year term. The candidates’ answers are published below as received. When necessary, answers were edited slightly for length.

Tom Brunner:

Name and what you do for a living?

Tom Brunner, Nisland , SD

Farmer, feedlot owner

What motivated you to run for this office?

Motivation, seeing that the conservative point of view was not always adhered to, make sure that this viewpoint was articulated

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

My experience in not only the legislature for 7 terms but my experience as a business owner, dealing with employee issues, payroll, taxes. I have real life experiences building relationships that are necessary to be an effective legislator.

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

I have served on the Butte Electric board for 29 years and on the Statewide Rural electric board for 26 years, been an officer on these boards, besides various church boards, fire dept. , etc.

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

I talk frequently with local elected officials and meet with them when requested, but I don’t regularly attend meetings unless i am invited or requested to attend.

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal newspaper?

Yes

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

Proper funding for schools and counties, county budgets are being strained because of drug abuse and other issues beyond their control. Access to mental health facilities is a big issue in western South Dakota, especially in the more rural counties.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

Proper funding for schools and counties, county budgets are being strained because of drug abuse and other issues beyond their control. Access to mental health facilities is a big issue in western South Dakota, especially in the more rural counties.

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

The solution to these problems is never easy, i think we need to look for other revenue streams for the counties. State dollars tend to go where the biggest population is. We cannot depend on property taxes to fund everything the counties are required to do. I think we need to look at allowing counties the option for a local sales tax, possibly taxing liquor sales, but this revenue needs to stay local and not used to grow state government without local benefit.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I have a passion for protecting the unborn, families and our 2nd amendment rights. With those rights comes responsibilities to protect them for the next generation.

In light of COVID-19 causing a massive downturn in the state’s revenue expectations, where does the state need to focus its limited budget?

Right now with the Ag. Economy the way it is i think the only thing working in our district is our diversity and our strong sense of community. We have a work ethic and a loyalty to each other that just won’t quit. We retain that by keeping government out of our lives when unnecessary and allowing businesses to flourish without heavy tax and regulatory burdens.

What do you think the state should to assist local businesses and citizens recover from the economic decline?

The state needs to focus its resources on funding the basics and not growing government and pet projects. We have set up economic loan programs but we should also help people and businesses access federal programs that may be available.

While meat-processing plants have been bringing in higher revenues, livestock producers have not seen that trickle down to them. What, if anything, can the state do to assist our ranchers?

We need to keep the pressure on our federal delegation to work toward solutions, not just lip service. We need to work toward American ownership of our packing houses. Foreign entities have no loyalty other than profit, we need to put America first. We need to advocate for mandatory country of origin labeling (mCOOL)

Kirk Chaffee:

Name and what you do for a living?

Kirk Chaffee. Represent District 29 in the House as the incumbent and operate Kirk Chaffee Consulting which focuses on agricultural property tax issues after my career service retirement with Meade County as the Director of Equalization. I am currently seated on the House Taxation and House Local Government Committees, also a member of the legislatures standing summer committee Ag Land Assessment Task Force.

What motivated you to run for this office?

Desire, background and practical experience to make positive changes while serving the people of District 29. Throughout my life I have been involved in the community.  Everything from making sandboxes for area youth, raising money for Toys 4 Tots to food banks, fulfilling roles on various boards and committees for Sturgis and Meade County, to later in life serving as a Representative for District 29. I believe in order to illicit real change, you need to stand up, speak up, and act up. By act up, I mean DO.  I have consistently done just that for the past 35+ years.  I am doing it as your Representative today.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

In my tenure working for the Meade County Commissioners I performed a wide range of leadership and spokesperson roles.  I have actual hands on experience and knowledge working on issues that directly relate to serving the public. I have a strong understanding of our property tax system and the function of various city, county and state offices.  I also have experience with database management and the ability to analyze information to make informed decisions.  Because of my wide base of understanding, I was often appointed to chair or lead numerous technical projects.

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

Over the last 35 years I’ve fulfilled leadership roles running the gamut from president of the Sturgis Jaycees to president of County professional organizations.  In 2005 Meade County Commissioner appointed me to provide supporting role in Saving Ellsworth during the base closure, (BRAC) hearings.  I was member of the Rapid City Area Metropolitan Planning Organization,  an organization dealing with federal, state, county, and municipal infrastructure. Original and current sitting member of the Ag Land Assessment Oversight Task Force established in 2008.  Elected to serve 5 years as the Secretary for the Black Hills Association of County Commissioners in 2015. I have served on numerous boards representing Meade County with Bureau of Land Management, and Black Hills National Forest. Sturgis Economic development Board Member for over 10 years.

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

With my background in local government, a week doesn’t go by that I don’t have at least one conversation with members of the county commission, city council or other leaders in my district.  Whether it is attending meetings with State Game and Fish on area depredation management, Black Hills County Commissioners or local ambulance district, I attempt to attend all meetings which I have been invited by a board or citizen; if my schedule allows.

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal newspaper?

Yes

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

District 29 is one of the largest (geographically) in the state. From Faith to Box Elder, Nisland down to Summerset, Newell to Sturgis, Union Center on to Howes, and as a result has many diverse communities each with unique focuses. I do believe the core issues of each are concern over what the ‘new normal’ will look like with Covid19, state budget impacts, infrastructure needs, and economic growth.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

How we get comfortable with the “new normal” with Covid-19 will take all of us working together to find balance between safety and personal freedoms.  I am anticipating that with the sales tax revenues down, the state may be limited on funds to spend on roads or economic development. I think the best way to solve some of the afore mentioned issues, is to look at non-monetary ways of helping such as removing or relaxing any regulatory restrictions without losing any safety requirements.  With Agriculture and Tourism (small business) being our two largest economic drivers in the state, I would like to explore the idea of a Owner Occupied property tax reduction for commercial (small business) similar to what is offered to owner occupied homeowners.  

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

We all receive the benefit of South Dakotas S&P’s AAA credit rating allowing our communities the opportunity for lowest interest rates when issuing bonds.  By keeping a balanced budget and conservative spending we should be able to maintain this rating.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I’ve enjoyed the challenges of serving in the legislature and look forward to working hard the next two years. I come with decades of expertise in dealing with Local, State and Federal Agencies and the same amount of time working with and helping small citizen groups. I work on solving problems by focusing on issues and facts and less on emotion and drama. I can tap into practical, previous experiences and keep clear focus on the objectives at hand.

In light of COVID-19 causing a massive downturn in the state’s revenue expectations, where does the state need to focus its limited budget?

I think Governor Noem is doing a wonderful job of aligning state policies to capitalize on any federal funds through the CARES Act for recovery. I do not want to see the State go backwards on teacher’s pay.  We need to stay focused on public safety and continue supporting businesses to remain open. South Dakota runs a pretty tight and balanced budget so “trimming” anything will be a very difficult job.   Until we see the actual impacted dollars and a road map of any assigned federal aid dollars, it is premature to speculate on specific budget items.

What do you think the state should do to assist local businesses and citizens recover from the economic decline?

When it comes to the question of what the government should do to help local citizens and private business at any time, my first go to answer is, “get the heck out of their way!”  South Dakotan’s have built a state government on the premises of avoiding bureaucratic red tape, needless requirements and heavy tax burdens. I see the State’s role as clearing the field of as many obstacles as possible. Government’s role is to only provide what we the people cannot accomplish as individuals.   

While meat-processing plants have been bringing in higher revenues, livestock producers have not seen that trickle down to them. What, if anything, can the state do to assist our ranchers?

This is not a new issue nor was it caused by Covid-19. I believe the ability to substantively assist our ranchers lays with our Congressional delegation. They need to continue to put pressure on the DOJ and the Senate Antitrust subcommittee to investigate unfair practices of the four largest packing plants. Currently these four completely control the markets on both ends.  They determine the price to the producer AND the price to the retailer. Other than create our own (non-governmental and privately owned) “South Dakota Meat Packing Plant”, we can work towards the “do-able”.

Lincoln Shuck:

Name and what you do for a living?

Lincoln I. Shuck

Farmer / Ranch: Co-Owner of Shuck Brother Ranch

Co-Owner of LA Shuck & Sons

Currently, County Highway Superintendent

Formerly, Production Team Lead Peabody Energy Coal Mine

What motivated you to run for this office?

I am motivated to run for this office because I believe more can be done to diversify our great State of South Dakota in production agriculture, harvesting natural resources of our state, and changing taxation. Furthermore, I believe the State can invest in businesses that support our economy, such as local meat processing corporations, rural economic development, solar wind farms, and rare earth mining.

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

I feel I am qualified for this position due to my many leadership roles in my lifetime; my understanding of the agricultural needs of farmers, ranchers, feeders, and processors; and my genuine love for our state and the great people who reside here. In my production team roles within Peabody Energy, I utilized my skills in employee management; new mining processes to enhance production, along with morale of employees; and to cut overall cost while maintaining superior quality of goods. I also have a vast understanding of all agricultural and mining equipment that increases productivity, but also decreases cost.

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

I am an appointed Highway superintendent who strongly believes that our citizens deserve roads that are accessible and maintained in all weather events. I also have clear understanding of laws and procedures maintaining South Dakota highways, roads, and bridges.

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

There are simply too many meetings to mention that I have attended online and in person to understand the needs of the people within our state and how it affects us personally and professionally. I have always kept an eye on all State sponsored bills that go through the State Senate and House to keep watch, to see how they are written, and if they truly serve the needs of the people.

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal newspaper?

No, I do not subscribe, but I read the local newspaper. I am also a reader of many forms of print to educate myself on what is happening across our state.

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

The most important issues that need to be addressed in our district is the inequalities of taxation; the lack of diversification of our tax base; supporting our local people in business entrepreneurships; and the expansion of all agricultural tourism, mining, and economic development.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

1. Inequalities of taxation:  lower taxes

2. The lack of diversification of our tax base:   bring new businesses; expand current businesses; remove caps from local food processors; and allow unlimited sales of meat products.

3. Supporting our local people in business entrepreneurships:   lower and guarantee interest state loans, state support and training for businesses, and utilizing state statistics.

4. The expansion of all agricultural tourism, mining, and economic development:  

Tourism:  advertise the many tourism spots

Mining:  rare earth metal development where economically feasible

Economic Development:  processing to the final product of agricultural and mining products that increase our economic revenue

 

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

We have an awesome work force within our district, along with a wonderful morally grounded people that want to succeed. I believe that by bringing in more opportunities to finish our products to the final step will bring higher paying jobs increasing our economic development base.

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

We have an awesome work force within our district, along with a wonderful morally grounded people that want to succeed. I believe that by bringing in more opportunities to finish our products to the final step will bring higher paying jobs increasing our economic development base.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I am not a politician; I am a statesman, somebody who is looking out for all within the state.

I am married with two sons. My wife has a Bachelors in Elementary and Special Education with a Master’s in Education Administration.  I have an Associate’s Automotive degree from WTI.  We utilize the educational opportunities of public virtual schools that have expanded our public-school districts taught by school state certified teachers. I also believe that parents who wish to send their children to a private school be allowed appropriate vouchers for their taxes that they paid into the school tax.

In light of COVID-19 causing a massive downturn in the state’s revenue expectations, where does the state need to focus its limited budget?

Any noncritical project needs to be pushed back if necessary, to allow us to recover from this pandemic while keeping our economy open to maintain employment and continued economy growth while following recommended CDC guidelines for all.

What do you think the state should to assist local businesses and citizens recover from the economic decline?

With moving noncritical projects back and keeping focus on safety while keeping the economy open with appropriate guidelines, I believe we will recover. I also believe improvement will happen if we implement appropriate changes to the inequalities of taxation; the lack of diversification of our tax base; supporting our local people in business entrepreneurships; and the expansion of all agricultural tourism, mining, and economic development.

While meat-processing plants have been bringing in higher revenues, livestock producers have not seen that trickle down to them. What, if anything, can the state do to assist our ranchers?

The state should look at using Antitrust laws, interstate commerce laws, and cooperating with other states in using domesticated products first. For national security, country origin of labeling must be required; we should promote America made first and foremost. We should not be reliant upon other countries for products when we could be making our own. Furthermore, foreign ownership of any part of our supply chain should be watched very carefully even if it means taking it to the Supreme Court and challenging existing laws.

Dean Wink:

Name and what do you do for a living?

Dean Wink   

Our family owns and operates a commercial cattle ranch in eastern Meade County.

What motivated you to run for this office?

I’ve been active in local politics for several years. In 2002, I decided to give back to the community that welcomed us so warmly when we arrived in 1995. I ran and was elected to the Meade County Commission and served for six years before running for the House of Representatives. I served in the House for four terms (2008-2016).

Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

My previous time spent in the House gives me a wide range of experiences that will give me an opportunity to work with other legislators introducing bills to enhance the future of South Dakota.

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

While serving as a Meade County Commissioner, I was elected to serve as Vice-Chair for six years. While in the legislature, I served as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee in my second term. My third and fourth terms were spent in House leadership. My third term, I was elected Speaker Pro Tem to assist the Speaker in day to day activities. In my 4th term, I was honored to be elected Speaker of the House by my colleagues.

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

Mostly, I’ve attended local school board and county commission meetings when there was an issue that I in which I had an interest.

Do you subscribe to your community’s legal newspaper?

At present, I subscribe to four newspapers to give me an idea as to what’s going on in communities in my area. Faith Independent, Belle Fourche Beacon, Black Hills Pioneer and the Rapid City Journal electronic edition.

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

The most critical one at this time is how the State is going to address the economic impact of the Corona Virus. Many family businesses, farms and ranches are being financially challenged by the impact. The sales tax revenue shortfall will need to be dealt with in the near term and possibly for much longer.

How do you intend to solve these issues?

That will depend on the severity of the situation. In 2011, the State was facing a 120 million dollar structural deficit. Governor Daugaard asked the legislature to help him eliminate this deficit. Working together, we executed a 10% across the board cut in state government expenses and finished the Session with a balanced budget proposal. If the revenue shortfall is worse than 2011, we’ll need to take more drastic measures.

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

Our ability to move forward will depend on every community’s cooperative efforts to work together both within the community and between communities. I intend to be as involved and active as time will permit to attend various school board, city council, county commission and economic development meetings in order to give me a good picture of our community development.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I enjoy and get a great deal of satisfaction from helping people.

In light of the COVID-19 causing a massive downturn the state’s revenue expectations, where does the state need to focus its limited budget?

In the near term, first responders, health care workers and long term care centers helping those that are most in need. Longer term, we need to have a conversation as to our state’s priorities and act accordingly.

What do you think the state should do to assist local businesses and citizens recover from the economic decline?

South Dakota is limited by a small budget by most standards! Most of our citizens are conservative by nature and ,I believe, do not want us to go into extreme debt. We’ve worked very hard to reach a AAA rating in our bonds. The banks are already relaxing some of the guidelines having to do with various operating notes and mortgages.

In times like these, its neighbors helping neighbors, families coming together and friends      calling others to offer assistance that will get us through these tumultuous challenges.

While meat-processing plants have been bringing in higher revenues, livestock producers have not seen that trickle down to them. What, if anything, can the state do to assist our ranchers?

There needs to be something done on a national level! There is too much concentration in the meat packing industry. Four companies control 80% of the meat packing facilities!  

Several ideas are being pursued.

Investigation by the Dept. of Justice into price fixing.

Mandatory Country of Origen labeling!

A requirement that meat packers must buy at least 50% of their cattle on the cash market!

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