Author Archives: Bob Mercer

Analyst favors Republican in governor’s race

Here are the latest ratings on governor elections in our region from Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia Center for Politics:

South Dakota — Likely Republican (The Republican nominee is U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. The Democratic nominee is state Senate minority leader Billie Sutton.)

Wyoming — Safe Republican.

Nebraska — Safe Republican.

Iowa — Tossup.

Minnesota — Leans Democratic.

North Dakota, Montana — No election.

Governor appoints several people to key spots

Gov. Dennis Daugaard continued making a flurry of appointments to state boards and commissions in recent weeks as his administration headed into its final months in office.

Liza Clark of Pierre received two new posts. The state commissioner of finance and management succeeds Lt. Gov. Matt Michels in one of the governor-appointed seats on the South Dakota Retirement System trustees. She also succeeds Patrick Weber, a former aide to the governor, on the School Finance Accountability Board.

Pam Roberts of Pierre, a long-time Cabinet member during the Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard administrations, succeeds Don Kattke of Sioux Falls on the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council. Her resume includes time as state secretary of labor. He oversaw the state Division of Unemployment Insurance prior to his October 2011 appointment to the council. She’s also a member of the Board of Regents that oversees South Dakota’s public universities and special schools.

Carol Lawhun of Rapid City succeeds Matthew Krogman of Brookings on the Real Estate Commission. Krogman had been a member since April 2012.

Kelly Glodt, superintendent for the Pierre school district, succeeds former state Education Secretary Don Kirkegaard on the Teacher Compensation Review Board.

Sherry Johnson of Sisseton succeeds Curt Mortenson of Fort Pierre on the Hagen-Harvey Memorial Scholarship Board. Mortenson had been a board member since July 2013.

Jamie White of Huron succeeds Richard Shelton of Huron on the State Fair Commission. Shelton had served since May 2006.

No-travel advised on part of US 18


Motorists asked to Stay Away from Fall River Road Due to Active Fire

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Transportation and emergency officials are asking for help from motorists by avoiding driving in the area of Highway 18/385, also known as Fall River Road, between Hot Springs and Maverick due to heavy fire truck/equipment traffic travelling to a forest fire adjacent to the roadway.

Heavy winds have caused the fire to jump the fire line and motorists are asked to alter travel plans in this area to allow emergency vehicles to access the area unimpeded and for driver safety.

Highway 18 is not closed, but there is a No Travel Advisory posted. Be sure to check or call 511 for the latest updates as this is an active fire and an ever changing emergency situation.

More appointments by governor

Here are more recent appointments by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to state boards and commissions:

Gregory Carmon of Brandon succeeds Sheldon Cotton of Volga on the Railroad Board. Daugaard appointed Cotton in November 2012.

Michael Luken of Watertown succeeds Casey Derflinger of Hot Springs on the South Dakota Economic Development Authority. Then-Gov. Mike Rounds appointed Derflinger in November 2009.

Jeff Miller of Brookings succeeds Bob Grandpre on the Civil Service Commission. Daugaard appointed Grandpre in August 2012.

Kassidy Nelson of Elkton succeeds Arne Hauge on the Aeronautics Commission. Daugaard appointed Hauge in January 2014.

Amanda Stade of Brookings succeeds Peter Nielson of Brookings on the State Fair Commission. Rounds appointed Nielson in December 2009.

Turn-lane work set for Yankton


The South Dakota Department of Transportation says work to construct turn lanes on Highway 50 at 437th Avenue (Deer Boulevard) west of Yankton starts Monday, Aug. 13.

The work being completed includes removal of the existing shoulders, constructing turn lanes, and paving of the turn lanes and intersection with asphalt concrete.

This project will provide turn lanes to Deer Boulevard.

There will be shoulder drop-offs along Highway 50 and traffic is advised to be aware of construction traffic and trucks entering the highway.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane and guided through the project with the use of flaggers during the removal and placement of the surfacing. A delay of up to 10 minutes can be expected while traveling through the work area when flaggers are present. Traffic approaching on Deer Blvd will be maintained in one lane during construction.

The completion date is Sept. 21.

Midland Contracting, Inc. of Huron is the prime contractor on the $580,000 project.

For complete road construction information, visit<> or dial 511.

No Internet streaming of schools summit

The Associated School Boards of South Dakota and the School Administrators of South Dakota hold their annual joint convention today and Friday in Sioux Falls. There are some good presentations scheduled, but people have to be in the hall to see them.

That’s because the presentations won’t be shown on the Internet, according to Tyler Pickner. He is a spokesman for the school boards group.

“Unfortunately we will not have a streaming option this year. It may be something we investigate utilizing next year,” Pickner said.

Who’s running can be hard to know w/updates

This is a message to leaders of the South Dakota Democratic and Republican parties,

Neither of your statewide websites — and — seems to have a list of the candidates for statewide offices or the Legislature..

This came to light in the past few minutes during a search for the names of the three women Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed Wednesday to legislative vacancies ahead of the Sept. 12 special session.

The Legislature passes many laws. Requiring the state-accredited political parties to publicly list their respective candidates on websites and on paper might be worth consideration.

UPDATE: Aaron Matson from the South Dakota Democratic Party said candidates will be listed on the group’s new website. He said it will debut next week.The South Dakota Secretary of State list of candidates is here.

Governor names two to Medicaid and Lottery panels

Among many appointments Gov. Dennis Daugaard made in recent weeks was his pick of Dr. Deidra Vangilder of Watertown for a seat on the state Medicaid Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee.

Vangilder succeeds Debra Farver of Yankton, who had served on the panel since 2008. The committee’s duties include overseeing prescriptions of opioids to Medicaid patients in South Dakota.

The governor also appointed a new member to the South Dakota Lottery Commission.

Jason Ahrendt of Sioux Falls fills the seven months remaining on the term of Cheryl Laurenz Bogue of Faith. She had served on the lottery’s oversight panel since 2017.

Will Jackley voters back Noem or cross to Sutton?

One key to Democratic state Sen. Billie Sutton’s campaign for governor of South Dakota is opposition among Republicans to their party’s nominee, U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. So says his running mate, Michelle Lavallee.

She told Minnehaha County Democrats at their lunch meeting Friday that Republicans who supported state Attorney General Marty Jackley have been approaching the Sutton campaign.

They reportedly didn’t like how Noem’s campaign turned negative about Jackley at points during the weeks leading to the June 5 primary election.

“There is anger in this state,” Lavallee said. A video of her speech is circulating on the Internet.

She was a Republican until about two months ago, when she switched her voter registration to Democratic from Republican.

On the first day that the Sutton campaign recently created a Republicans for Sutton page on Facebook, about 80 Republicans filed out forms, according to Lavallee.

A July poll conducted for Sutton’s campaign showed Noem leading by four points.