Photo looking up into dome of capitol building in Pierre, SD

Spring brings elections

South Dakotans welcome spring. We all enjoy our parks, bike trails, baseball games and election season. With the April municipal elections behind us, it’s time to focus on the June 7 primary races.

The South Dakota Legislature created new state legislative districts last fall, resulting in district boundary changes in the greater Sioux Falls region. We gained another legislative district (an additional three legislators). In addition, some incumbent legislators that used to be in different districts now find themselves competing in the same district. The June primary has many contested legislative races.

It’s a good thing to have so many South Dakotans seeking to engage in our democracy by running for office. The Chamber continues to be outspoken about encouraging employers to support their employees who run for public office. The Chamber believes that business-friendly policy makers should be in the room when important decisions impacting our community are made. In addition, the business community needs to support those individuals who are prepared to step forward and become policy leaders in our city and state.

To further that effort, last November the Chamber held a non-partisan candidate school: Next Level of Civic Leadership (NCL). The class was a pilot project and it sought to equip individuals who were considering a future run for public office. Eighteen business-friendly community leaders participated in the pilot NLCL program. Attendees gained the following benefits and skills:

  • Participants heard from nearly 30 current and former elected officials, campaign managers and political insiders on the merits and challenges of running for and holding public office.
  • Participants expanded their knowledge about the roles and responsibilities of various levels of government.
  • Participants expanded their networks by connecting with other passionate, civic-minded community leaders.
  • Participants now have the opportunity to be mentored by a former elected official to help them strengthen their platform and make decisions about their personal civic journey.

the business community needs to support those who are prepared to step forward and become policy leaders in our city and state.

All of this effort has culminated in encouraging those pro-business candidates to put their name on the June ballot. These candidates provide choices for the voter, especially the pro-business voters.

Each year, the Chamber provides a Legislative Scorecard to help business leaders know how their legislators voted on bill that the Chamber took a position on during session. The scorecard came into being four years ago, at the request of our leadership and past board chairs. The 2022 Legislative Scorecard includes all of the bills the Chamber took a position on during the most recent legislative session and reflects how each individual legislator voted. It also includes a cumulative score for each legislator from the last four legislative sessions. If you take a moment to review the scorecard, you will find many of the scorecard percentages are improving. This year there were 10 legislators who voted with the Chamber 100% of the time! Overall, the vast majority of our region’s legislators voted with the Chamber this year.

The Legislative Scorecard is a communication tool both to our members and to the legislators. You can find the scorecard along with our Legislative Annual Report on our website.

There are many first-time candidates seeking office this year, many of whom attended the Chamber’s NLCL last fall. We urge you to support these candidates in whatever way works best for you. There are many ways to help the candidates, it doesn’t always mean a donation of dollars. Candidates also appreciate a donation of time to help with their campaign. If you have an interest in supporting a candidate(s) we encourage you to reach out to them directly. Candidates would appreciate hearing from you.

Democracy at the local level is best. Let’s encourage and support those business-friendly candidates seeking to serve.