By Aaron Eberle
On Saturday, April 30, a candidates forum was hosted at the St. James Parish Center at 6 p.m. This forum was for republican candidates that are up for election in the primary, where more than one candidate is on the list. This included seven candidates for commissioner in Fall River County, five candidates for District 30 and two candidates for senate.
In the commissioner race, Ann Abbott, incumbent, Joe Allen, incumbent, Paul Nabholz, Ed Harvey, Ray Palmer, Jeff Shannon and Ben Tubbs, answered questions for an hour. Most candidates in this race have either lived here their entire lives or move in and have lived here for several years.
It was brought to the attention of the panel, that the assistant equalization director was five years in the rear on her taxes in Fall River and Custer Counties. How did she get hired. Allen wasn’t sure how she got hired, but she was put on administrative leave until DCI investigated and was later asked to leave her position.
Abbott had nothing further to add to Allen’s statement. Nabholz was curious as to why the current commission was not aware of this when she was hired, especially since delinquent tax lists are published in the local county papers. Nabholz also added that it may not appear so bad on the surface.
Harvey remarked that there are many people behind on their taxes and it appears that nobody is minding the store. Shannon pays his taxes, even though he may not like. He thinks that an audit would be a good way to start to clean up the mess, although he wasn’t really sure hot to go about the audit or whom would need to be hired.
Several of the audience members were very concerned about the economic status of Edgemont, with the loss of the railroad running through the town. Even though Mark Hollenbeck knew the stance of some of the panel, he wondered what Abbott, Palmer, Shannon and Tubbs stance was on uranium.
Abbott said that her parents were involved in mines and uranium years ago. She is not as up on in situ mining as she feels she should be, but plans on studying more about it. She wonders about the water table with the mining, but as of right now she is not for or against.
Rampelberg stated that every school got more money with this bill or that the legislature never told people what they were to with teachers if they did not fall into the ratio. Right now the goal is to try and improve class size.
Russell believes that the senate bills were very harmful to small schools. District 30 will loves 30 teachers because there will be no money for them anymore. The ratio is 12.5 students per teacher. Russell believes that there will be less money for less teachers.
Frye-Mueller agreed with much of what Russell said and had a form that explained things better. She was glad when Russell tried to reintroduce a bill to use gambling money for the teacher. Frye-Mueller felt this was better than the increase in the sales tax.
Goodwin doesn’t understand the need when there is money in reserves. Goodwin will not be swayed when it comes time to vote on things like this. He stand ups for principles and what he believes in. Lassiter, who substitute teaches, is starting to see the effect in school already. Lassiter believes that we should fund our needs first, then our wants.
Mounce believes that Edgemont should have the best education and efficiencies need to be created in school districts. Oakes believes she would not have increased the sales tax and doesn’t feel it will go towards the teacher’s salary. The government is spending money like they had it to spend and they have priority issues.
Oakes felt that this could have been done in a better way.
When asked how they felt about the governor wanting to expand medicaid, none of the panel were for the expansion.
When asked if they had considered a state income tax, Rampelberg believes that Big Box Stores are taking money out of the state everyday. He would really like to get some money from there and the possibility of an income tax on them may be a good thing. Other panel members were not in favor of an income tax.
When asked how they could make cuts in the state budget, Goodwin believes in thinking outside of the box. If there was no more public lands, they could get that back into circulating and generate more revenue, as opposed to taking money out of the system. Goodwin also stated that in the long run it would reduce taxes for everyone. Lassiter aggreed with Goodwin.
Frye-Mueller believes the department of education is out of bounds on spending. Russell thinks that there is no need for the Build South Dakota program and low income housing is not good. Russell thinks that the government is literally giving away thinks at the tax payers expense. It troubled Russell that nobody could get to Edgemont when he feels that it is in an emergency state.
Rampelberg would like to find a way to make more jobs and to cut medicaid or prison but not sure what could be done. Rampelberg disagreed with Russell and thinks that the property taxes are going into education and that there is a lot of good stuff going on today.
Oakes agrees with Russell and feels that the sales tax should be repealed. Oakes also feels that expanding every two years is wrong, we should be cutting back. Mounce thinks that a balance budget could happen in South Dakota. Mounce believes that we should set priorities and everybody should have to budget.
The primary election is on June 7.