Jeff Nelson, Democratic candidate for District 8 House

Jeff Nelson, Democratic candidate for District 8 House

District 8 Democrats are back to a full slate of candidates for Legislature. Jeff Nelson filed papers last week to run for District 8 House in place of David Skoglund, the Democratic placeholder who withdrew back in April after Moorhead cops busted him in a sex sting. Nelson's press release does not mention Skoglund by name. It does mention a whole bunch of reasons that Nelson brings some serious campaign-trail power to the Democratic ticket:

  • 24 years as East River Electric GM, meaning Nelson knows utility policy and he knows people;
  • freshly retired, meaning Nelson can give the campaign and the Legislature full-time attention;
  • community service with Inter-Lakes Community Action, the Lake County Food Pantry, LifeScape (the recently merged Children's Care Hospital and School and SD Achieve), and the Mitchell Technical Institute Foundation, meaning Nelson can talk poverty relief, children's health and rehab, and funding for vocational ed;
  • work with the ethanol and wind energy industries, meaning he can campaign knowledgeably on a panoply of energy issues;
  • his wife Trudi, a whip-smart force of nature and former MHS debate coach who will keep Jeff firmly reminded of the need to kick some sense into the Legislature on K-12 funding.

Jeff Nelson joins Democratic House candidate Patrick G. Heinemann and Democratic Senate aspirant (and current state representative and East River wingman) Scott Parsley in the battle to turn District 8 full blue. Nelson faces incumbent Rep. Leslie Heinemann and new GOP challenger Mathew Wollmann.

Below is Nelson's full campaign announcement, issued after lunch today:

Jeff Nelson enters race for South Dakota House

WENTWORTH — Jeff Nelson of rural Madison has announced his candidacy for the South Dakota House of Representatives from District 8 which includes Lake, Moody, Miner and Sanborn counties. Nelson, a Democrat, was nominated by local party leaders to replace a candidate who withdrew from the race.

“With the encouragement of many friends and community members, I’m pleased to announce my candidacy to represent the people of District 8 in Pierre,” Nelson said. “I’m honored to have the confidence of local party leaders and plan to run a positive campaign focused on issues that are important to the people of District 8. I intend to bring experienced leadership and common-sense ideas to the state Capitol that will make a difference in people’s lives.”

A lifelong South Dakotan, Nelson has lived in the Madison area for the past four decades. He worked for East River Electric Power Cooperative for 39 years, 24 as the organization’s general manager, before retiring this past February.
“I’m looking forward to this new challenge.” Nelson said. “During the campaign I intend to lead a conversation focused on strengthening the investment in education, supporting broadened economic opportunity with special emphasis on workforce development and increased pay, and working to extend access to medical care.”

Nelson is active in community activities. Currently he serves on the Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership (ICAP) board of directors and is President of the Lake County Food Pantry. Nelson is also an officer on the statewide foundation board of directors for LifeScape (previously Children’s Care Hospital & School and SD Achieve) and serves on the board of the Mitchell Technical Institute Foundation.

Nelson has been involved in state and national legislative policy for decades. In his professional career he testified before Congress on public power issues and has worked closely with state legislators and government agency officials on many legislative issues. Nelson is credited with helping the ethanol industry gain a foothold in South Dakota by creating a mechanism that allowed electric cooperative members to use co-op patronage as collateral to invest in the state’s first ethanol plants. He was instrumental in creating the Value-Added Agriculture Development Center and the SD Wind Energy Association. He also served on a number of regional and national boards as part of his role with East River Electric.

A military veteran, Nelson served in the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division after graduating from South Dakota State University with an electrical engineering degree. Nelson’s wife, Trudi, is a retired teacher who taught and coached debate in the Madison Central School District for 15 years. The Nelson’s have two grown children and three grandchildren [Jeff Nelson, campaign press release, 2014.07.14].