Lentsch leaves SD ag development postFormer state Republican Party official moving to wealth management firm.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — Lucas Lentsch has resigned from the state Department of Agriculture, where he was director for agricultural development for the past 16 months, so that he can join an investment firm in Pierre.
Lentsch was executive director for the South Dakota Republican Party during the 2010 election campaigns.
In that role, he worked closely with state Sen. Bob Gray of Pierre, who was the party’s South Dakota chairman.
Lentsch’s new job is with Reinke Gray Wealth Management, where the senator is one of the principals.
“Funny how small our state is,” Gray said.
“I first met Lucas in 2008 when he was running for the (state) Senate, but actually spoke with him in 2006 sometime after he returned from Iraq. We were trying to recruit him to run for the Senate during that cycle.”
The tandem of Lentsch, who had served in the Army National Guard overseas, and Gray at the top of the Republican organization in 2010 saw their party’s candidates achieve one of the broadest sets of victories for legislative seats in modern times.
State Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones said the ag-development post is being advertised and he’s contacted leaders from the farm and ranch sector.
During the interim, Bones said, the division is split under Terry Labrie, who oversees finance programs, grants, mediation and counseling; and Sarah Caslin, who’s the leader on livestock development efforts.
“Lucas did a great job and as sorry as I am to see him leave, I wish him the best,” Bones said.
The department also has a vacancy for legal counsel.
Aubrey Blair Dunn left early in the spring. Interviews are under way, and Bones said he hopes to have the spot filled by the end of August.
Lentsch’s job paid $74,160 annually, while Dunn was receiving $73,500.
“I have a strong agriculture background, so I will largely be working with farm and ranch families. They oftentimes have unique financial and succession planning needs,” Lentsch said.
He was a Republican candidate for the Legislature in 2008, when he lived at Britton.
He lost to then-Sen. Gary Hanson, D-Sisseton. Lentsch won Marshall County, while Hanson won Roberts and Day counties.