Four Republicans vying for South Dakota’s District 11 seat

A record number of South Dakota Republicans are seeking a spot in the state legislature.

And in District 11, a legislative district that encompasses parts of west Sioux Falls, four candidates, including an incumbent, are hoping to win enough support in the June 7 primary to qualify for the November ballot.

Of the four men vying in District 11’s race for the State House, the top two voters will secure a spot in the general election where they will face two Democrats in the contest.

Editor’s note: Chief Argus has submitted a series of questions to all candidates who will appear on the primary ballots, with a request that responses be limited to 100 words or less for each response. Answers have been edited for grammar and clarity.

Questions

  1. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was removed from the State House on April 12 after 20 months of controversy following the death of Joe Boever, who was killed in a fatal car-on-pedestrian crash in which Ravnsborg was driving.
    • For holders: Why did you vote the way you did?
    • For challengers: How would you have voted on impeachment and why?
  2. This year, Governor Noem successfully blocked an attempt to cut the state’s 0.5% sales tax rate and a separate effort to eliminate the sales tax on groceries failed. neither succeeded in gaining passage. What do you think of the governor’s cautious approach to protecting existing government revenues amid a record surplus in state coffers in recent years?
  3. In 2022, lawmakers spent hours debating whether the state government should ban employers from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • For holders: Where did you fall in this political debate and why?
    • For challengers: What is the role of governments in mediating employer-employee relations over vaccinations and individual rights?

Brian Mulder

Age: 45

Profession/place of work: Volunteers of America – General Manager

Prior public/community service: Nonprofit, board member of The Community Outreach, Collision, and VOA-Dakotas prior to hiring. Has also volunteered as a youth coach, basketball, soccer and flag football.

Family info: Married to Chrissy, children – Jeremiah (16), Noel (14), Eli (12)

No. 1. First of all, I would like to offer my condolences to the Boever family. This is a tragic event, and I’m sure it’s very difficult to relive those days permanently as the impeachment process progresses.

As for how I would vote, I find it almost impossible to answer objectively. I did not participate in committee hearings, caucus meetings, nor did I have access to documentation that was only available to state legislators. For these reasons, it is difficult to give a definitive answer. But I’d lean towards impeachment from what I’ve seen.

No. 2. Although I am a conservative Republican and am in favor of smaller government and lower taxes, only a few years ago our previous governor in his last term had to cut his budgets due to declining state revenues.

Yes, the past few years have provided record incomes, but we are also experiencing record inflation, which in turn could lead to a recession. I think we would need a few years of sustained revenue and more data before lowering those sales tax rates, although I would personally like to see them lower.

No. 3. As I said before, I am for smaller government and I am also for individual freedoms. If so, I believe it would be the government’s role to grant freedom of action to employers, but also to protect the rights of individuals. Ensure that the government’s role is to keep an eye on what is happening, but to intervene only when necessary.

Chris Karr (starter)

Age: 42

Profession/place of work: Small business owner

Prior public/community service: Legislator, El Riad Shriner, Freemason, Junior Achievement

Family info: wife Erika

No. 1. I voted No to Impeachment because the rule of law and the precedents we set must be grounded in facts and must rise above opinion, conjecture or political agendas. The SD House Select Committee was made up of former police officers and people who understand the judicial and legal process.

Some members of this committee were openly not supporters of AG Ravnsborg, but still came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of wrongdoing that meets the standard of impeachment. I agree with the House Select Committee that the facts and evidence presented did not meet the standard of the Articles of Impeachment and therefore voted no.

No. 2. I served on the appropriations committee for six years, the last four as chair, and sponsored and supported tax breaks in the areas of property, sales tax, and gasoline. South Dakota is experiencing unprecedented economic growth and consistently higher-than-expected incomes, creating large revenue surpluses that have meant hundreds of millions of additional dollars over the past two years.

In 2016, sales tax was increased by 0.5% with a promise, which is actually in the law, to lower it when we could start collecting sales tax online – many legislators believed that this year was the time to honor that promise. I am not for big government and we should not fundraise beyond what we need to run government effectively. This causes a mentality of adding extra programs just to find ways to spend money.

I believe hard working people in South Dakota should keep more of their money and make sure the government doesn’t take more than it needs. The time had come to implement tax savings. Using strong revenue growth from the full implementation of sales taxes on internet transactions and the remarkable influx of dollars from increased tourism and new businesses and people calling Dakota home of the South, we could have provided much-needed tax relief at a time when inflation is eating a hole in our wallets.

This year, more than 36 states gave tax breaks to taxpayers — South Dakota should have been one of them. Projected surpluses in the future mean that our elected leaders will be faced with the decision of tax relief or growing government over the next few sessions – this election will determine what happens.

No. 3. I don’t believe the government should be involved in our personal decisions regarding freedom of conscience and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the government has interfered in these personal decisions.

The United States was founded with principles that protect life and individual freedoms. As a business owner myself, I believe that employers have certain rights, but they do not override the personal rights of individuals. Several laws have been passed to protect individual rights in the workplace. I have supported bills this session to address federal and corporate overreach.

Roger Russell

Age: 53

Profession/place of work: Realtor, small business owner

Family info: wife Judy, children

No. 1. I don’t have enough information to say how I would have voted on this question.

No. 2. I believe in tax cuts. I should see more of the breakdown of the numbers before making a decision.

No. 3. Companies should have the right to have their own policies. But I believe they should also have religious and medical exemption options for employees.

District 11 state House candidate Tyler Bonynge did not provide answers by the press deadline.

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