The forum helps voters choose the next governor

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – Charisse Oland of Sioux Falls is a registered freelancer who has lived in Sioux Falls for over 20 years.

She was undecided about whether she would vote for governor before entering Monday’s meeting at the Sioux Falls Rotary Center to watch Democratic candidate Jamie Smith’s hour-long question-and-answer session.

“I think the gubernatorial debate is always important for the state of South Dakota,” Oland told Dakota News Now. “This is a wonderful state and we want to keep it that way. If we don’t get out and hear what the candidates have to say, we can’t make informed decisions. “

That there were any undecided voters in South Dakota three weeks before the Nov. 8 election may surprise those who are close followers of either candidate. They have almost nothing in common in their views on the main issues of the state.

But in a recent South Dakota State University poll of 565 registered voters, 14 percent said they were undecided about who they would vote for. If the polls are even remotely accurate, those undecided voters could win the election, given how tight the polls say the race is, with Republican Gov. Christy Noem leading Democrat Smith by just 4 points at 45. % leads to 41%. .

Only with a debate for voters to observe throughout the campaignMonday’s meeting with Smith could very well be the kind of event that could swing the vote.

This happened in the case of Holland. More on this in a moment.

It helped Smith’s cause, Oland said, simply by having the candidate agree to appear and answer questions, something both Smith and Libertarian candidate Tracy Quint chose not to do.

The event was actually structured as a debate rather than a monologue.

“It’s disappointing to me that our governor wasn’t here today,” Holland said, “considering that he’s campaigned in other states, but he hasn’t campaigned in South Dakota and not at this event, which has been an annual tradition for many years. “.

Asked by Dakota News Now why he decided to attend the event, Smith replied, “because that’s what you do as a leader. you show up, right? And so I think it’s very important for South Dakota voters to know who they’re voting for, and to do that, you have to reach out to people and answer questions. “

Dakota News Now reached out to Noem’s gubernatorial campaign to find out why he declined to appear at the session. Her communications director, Ian Fury, directed Dakota News Now to respond to a press release about Jamie Smith’s tax record.

Asked why he thought Noem hadn’t been found, Smith said: “It’s not in his best interest to show him. I feel like he has to answer the questions he doesn’t want to answer – the hard questions about why he does certain things, where he gets some of the information in his speeches, and his lack of being in the state of South Dakota and why. he spends so much time away.’

While Hollande believes that Noem has done well in some areas over the past four years, the former health care chief does not like Noem’s handling of his proposal to repeal the food sales tax in recent weeks. First, the proposal, which Smith was quick to point out, is one that lawmakers, including himself, have been pushing for years.

On Monday, Smith called the position “a political crime.”

“He knows he has to cut taxes somewhere, which he hasn’t been able to do,” Smith said.

Smith criticized Noem for not calling a special session of the Legislature to repeal the food sales tax, citing remarks he made at a Sioux Falls grocery store last week.

“He looked kind of shocked into the camera and said, ‘Well, I don’t have the votes for it,'” Smith said. “Well, my job is to work to get the votes. We got the votes to pass it in the House this year. We passed it. We sent it to the Senate, but it got a death warrant, I’m sure, because it was…

Smith then imitated the sight and sound of a flying object falling to the ground with hand gestures and whistling.

All these words to Oland,

“What I heard today is that we really need to get beyond the false statements and get to the facts and really look at the food tax,” Hollande said. “This is a public policy issue that the Democratic Party has supported for many years and the Republican Party has not,” Hollande said. “It is now deplorable as a political ploy to win votes.”

And so, Hollande votes for the Democrats. As someone who lobbied state lawmakers in Pierre for 18 years on children’s health care, Holland pines for days when the balance in both chambers is closer to 50-50. It is currently dominated by Republicans.

“How can we have a balanced conversation or dialogue about government leadership when about 50 percent of the state’s population is Democrat, about 50 percent is Republican, but 90 percent of the representatives in Pierre are Republicans?”

“I find it hard to see where we can have balance in public policy.”

Hollande’s advice to potential voters who are still undecided?

“I really think this is an opportunity for those who are undecided to bring better justice to our conversations and voices for all the people of South Dakota,” Oland said. “I would really encourage people to get out and vote. I would encourage them to rely on democratic leadership to bring that balance back in the numbers and really look at the state as representing all of its people.”

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