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Graves Mistake: Mitchell Superintendent Wants to Run for Legislature

Sibby, save us! Mitchell school superintendent Joe Graves wants to run for Legislature:

Monday during the Mitchell Board of Education meeting at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, Graves, the school district superintendent, announced his plan to run for the South Dakota Legislature in 2014.

...Whether he runs for the House or Senate, Graves said, will partly "depend on what other people are doing," but either way, he will run as a Republican.

..."I want to be someone who can help continue to make South Dakota a free and prosperous state, as great a state as it can be," he said. "Lots of education decisions are made in Pierre. I think I can add to that process, as well" [Candy DenOuden, "Graves Wants Legislative Seat," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2013.09.09].

Yeah, add more horsehockey to the process. Superintendent Graves is a persistent Pierre sycophant, flacking for Governor Dennis Daugaard's really bad education plan in 2012 (when 97% of his fellow administrators did not support the plan), using anti-teacher arguments to fight that plan's referendum, and then saying teachers deserved a legislative screwing for having the gall to fight bad public policy that he said was good. Graves has signaled that he doesn't like the Common Core standards, but I'm thinking that's just a ploy to win some local Tea Party cred and maybe split the Steve Sibson vote (hey, they are a third of the District 20 GOP primary electorate!), not a statement of direction for real policy that a Senator or Representative Graves would vote to wreak on our schools.

The Mitchell School Board reacted cautiously to Graves's pre-announcement announcement:

Board members offered little commentary on the announcement, and board President Theresa Kriese said in a follow-up interview she doesn't know if the board will approve the plan when Graves presents it.

"We will see what Joe brings forth as a plan," she said. "We still have to review what his plan is for coverage of the district while he's at session" [DenOuden, 2013.09.09].

While he's at session—easy, Theresa: he hasn't won the election yet!

State law and Mitchell school board policy say that the board can't (and shouldn't!) stop Graves from running, just as the board couldn't stop excellent educator Mel Olson from running and serving in the Legislature from 1993 to 2004. Their approval of a plan to cover Graves's duties during the campaign and maybe during the session is not a legal prerequisite to the Graves candidacy. But Mitchell's policy does say an employee can't announce candidacy until the board as acted on that employee's written request. Graves thus must portray his signal of intent as something less than a formal announcement.

But Davison, Aurora, and Jerauld County voters, if you want education to head in the right direction, you should see if you can find some local Democrats or Republicans who might help change Graves's intent before he formally announces his desire to take his bad ideas to Pierre.


  1. Rick 2013.09.10

    Conflict of interest? The status of a constitutional conflict of interest had been widely discussed about a teacher's conflict because of the relationship of state budgets funding local school district budgets. But a teacher, on the ship of state we call a school district, ranks as mere sailor. The superintendent is the captain of the ship, and that makes a stronger case for possible conflict ... if elected and he takes office while also serving as superintendent.

    Article III, Section 12: Legislators ineligible for other office--Contracts with state or county. No member of the Legislature shall, during the term for which he was elected, be appointed or elected to any civil office in the state which shall have been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased during the term for which he was elected, nor shall any member receive any civil appointment from the Governor, the Governor and senate, or from the Legislature during the term for which he shall have been elected, and all such appointments and all votes given for any such members for any such office or appointment shall be void; nor shall any member of the Legislature during the term for which he shall have been elected, or within one year thereafter, be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.

  2. Owen Reitzel 2013.09.10

    We need more Democrats in Pierre not Republicans. The problems we have in this state are created by Republicans.
    And we really not need an educator who doesn't education

  3. Jana 2013.09.10

    Interesting that Common Core was brought up.

    I remember Grave's little rant. What I find interesting is that neither Governors, Rounds or Daugaard have been asked about the initiative that was pushed by Rounds and is tacitly endorsed by Gov D.

    Grave's might have been giving a little wink to the Tea Party, but he is poking a finger in the eye of both Rounds and Duagaard.

  4. DB 2013.09.11

    "The problems we have in this state are created by Republicans."

    And if a majority of Democrats were in Pierre, the problems would all be created by Democrats. This mentality that Dems all do good and Repubs all do bad is complete horse shit.

  5. Owen Reitzel 2013.09.11

    "And if a majority of Democrats were in Pierre, the problems would all be created by Democrats. This mentality that Dems all do good and Repubs all do bad is complete horse shit."

    I tell you what DB help vote Democrats in and we'll find out. Plus remember who in the hell been in charge since the 70's and Richard Kneip.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.12

    Ditto, Owen!

    At no point have I made the straw man claim that DB sets up to knock down. I said that Joe Graves would be an awful legislator for education, because he supports some of the worst ideas that the Republican Party has tried to foist on our public school system. DB did not respond to that but resorted to his usual topic-changing.

  7. DB 2013.09.12

    "DB did not respond to that but resorted to his usual topic-changing."

    That remark by Owen was just a little too naive to not respond too. If you feel left out, I'm sure I could find something to criticize. Also, I'm all for educational changes. Start with year round school and then we can legitimately pay you for 12 months work.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.12

    Owen's comment was not naïve; it was an accurate statement about the source of many of our problems, as well as an accurate prescription: many of those problems would be solved by electing more Democrats to check Republican excesses.

    You get work from teachers in the summer, keeping up certification with classes, researching, planning, etc. But I will oppose 12-month school on moral grounds: society gave me summer when I was a child; I have an obligation to give today's and tomorrow's children that same blessing.

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