District 21 House seat to be filled soonGov. Dennis Daugaard will fill a state House seat in District 21 by the end of the month.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Gov. Dennis Daugaard will fill a state House seat in District 21 by the end of the month.
That’s according to Tony Venhuizen, Daugaard’s director of policy and communications.
Venhuizen said Tuesday that Daugaard has narrowed down a list of potential legislators to “a handful” and will make his announcement soon.
Venhuizen declined to name any of the people being considered.
District 21 includes Jones, Lyman, Buffalo, Brule and Charles Mix counties.
This summer, Daugaard named state Rep. Kent Juhnke, R-Vivian, to replace state Sen. Cooper Garnos, R- Presho, as a senator representing District 21.
Garnos has taken a job as principal of Lyman High School and Presho Elementary School and will leave the Senate at the end of next week’s special session, Venhuizen said.
Once Juhnke moves to the Senate, his House will be vacant and will be filled by an appointee. The new House member will serve through 2012.
Daugaard asked for nominations from people who wanted to serve or had suggestions on who should be appointed.
“We had a pretty healthy response to that,” Venhuizen said. “There may have been 20 to 25 names submitted to us. Some took themselves off the list.
“We’ve narrowed it down to a handful of people we’re talking to,” he said.
Daugaard will make his choice once the special session, which will review new lines for South Dakota legislative districts, adjourns, said Venhuizen.
“In the coming week or maybe two he’ll be talking to some of those candidates himself,” he said.
“The goal is to have that decision made fairly soon, certainly by the end of the month.”
The appointee will come from a group of “pretty highprofile people” in the district, Venhuizen said.
“Everyone we are looking at, they’re all people engaged in their communities,” he said.
“They’re the kind of people you would expect to be in the Legislature.
“We had people from both parties suggested to us but we are focused on naming a Republican,” Venhuizen said. “The House and Senate seat are held by Republicans and it is the governor’s party.”
Former Mitchell legislator Noel Hamiel said Tuesday he does not expect to be appointed to the District 21 seat.
Hamiel, a former Daily Republic publisher and editor, represented District 20 in the South Dakota State House of Representatives in 2009-2010 but did not seek a second term.
He recently moved to rural Reliance in Lyman County, which is where he grew up, but said he has not sought the House seat.
“I’m sure that Governor Daugaard has a fair number of people that are qualified for that seat, and I haven’t lived in Lyman County for many, many years,” he said. “I would not feel comfortable being appointed to that position. Not that I’m saying I am being considered.”
Venhuizen said Hamiel is not on the short list of possible appointees.
But Hamiel, 63, said that doesn’t mean his political career is over.
“That’s a different question. I retain a keen interest in local and state issues,” he said. “I do have some experience in the legislative process. I wouldn’t rule anything out down the road.”