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Incumbents win SDRS trustee vote

PIERRE -- The South Dakota Retirement System trustees selected a new member to fill a vacancy on the board Wednesday, heard an early goodbye from a longtime trustee and ratified election results for three other trustee seats from what was the lowest voting turnout in the public pension system's recent history.

Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill was chosen for the open seat representing elected municipal officials. Gill and Presho City Council member Angela Ehlers applied for the vacancy.

Gill, who is state secretary of human services, won a 10-5 vote held by secret ballot among the other trustees present.

Gill's four-year term begins July 1 as a replacement for Kent Osborne, of Vermillion. He chose to leave the SDRS board now, because he doesn't intend to seek re-election to his city commission seat next year. He had been an SDRS trustee since 2010.

Sandy Zinter, who is state commissioner of human resources, told the board the meeting Wednesday and today might be her last as a member. She said her final day as commissioner is Friday.

The governor has selected Kim Stahl, of Pierre to serve as acting commissioner until a permanent successor to Zinter is appointed. Zinter said she expected the new appointee would also be placed by the governor on the SDRS board as one of his two appointed trustees.

Winning re-election to a county employee seat was K.J. Peterson, of Rapid City. She didn't face any competition.

She is the chief deputy auditor for Pennington County and has served as a SDRS trustee since 1997.

Incumbents won the three contested races. The elections were held by mail-in ballots sent to each class of membership.

There was heavy competition for the one retiree seat on the board. Jim Hansen, of Pierre, won re-election in a field of nine candidates. Hansen has been on the board since 1993.

Of 19,982 ballots sent to retired members, only 6,928 were returned and counted.

Hansen won with 2,338. The 35 percent participation was the lowest for the retirees membership since at least 1989.