Colleagues say Janklow was a force in SD politicsSIOUX FALLS (AP) — Friends and colleagues said former Gov. Bill Janklow was a fundamental force in South Dakota politics and helped shape the state during four terms as governor.
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Friends and colleagues said former Gov. Bill Janklow was a fundamental force in South Dakota politics and helped shape the state during four terms as governor.
Janklow announced Friday he is dying of brain cancer but will undergo treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The Republican had two separate eight-year stints as governor, one starting in 1978 and the other in 1994. He was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 but resigned after causing a fatal traffic accident in 2003.
Former state Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem, a Sioux Falls Democrat, said that Janklow always had a big idea for South Dakota at each annual state of state address to the Legislature.
“You didn’t have to agree with it, but you had to admire the energy,” Heidepriem said.
Heidepriem said he met Janklow when he campaigned for him in Janklow’s successful 1974 race for attorney general.
“We’ve been friends forever. I love him. I absolutely love him,” Heidepriem said.
Former Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson, R-Sioux Falls, said that Janklow “re-made the state.” Knudson, who worked as Janklow’s chief of staff for a period in the 1990s, said Janklow’s accomplishments include the recruitment of Citibank to South Dakota and the 1995 legislation that changed state aid to schools and cut local property taxes.
“To me it seems indisputable he was South Dakota’s greatest governor,” Knudson said. “The key to Bill is he was driven to solve problems. He never believed anything was impossible.”
Among Janklow’s other accomplishments as governor, he helped save rail service in much of the state and was a national leader in connecting classrooms to the Internet.
Former South Dakota State University political science professor Bob Burns, a Democrat who has been long friends with Janklow, said the governor is “among four or five of the most memorable political leaders in the history of our state.”
Janklow’s critics have complained about his combative nature, but friends point to his accomplishments and his help to those in need.
“He is very caring and sharing, and at the same time he could be very businesslike and direct in his manner,” Burns said.
Knudson said Janklow’s formidable intellect often cowed opposition, but Janklow was wrongly characterized as having no patience for other viewpoints.
Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Democrat, first ran for office when she lost to Janklow in the 2002 congressional race.
She ending up getting the seat after Janklow resigned.
“I was learning a lot in that campaign. Who better to learn from than somebody who had been governor over half my lifetime at that point,” Herseth Sandlin said.