District 8 was only at two-thirds strength at Tuesday's brief gathering of the Legislature for the Governor's budget address. Rep. Scott Parsley (D-8/Madison) and Rep. Leslie Heinemann (R-8/Flandreau) made it to Pierre, but District 8's Senate seat remains vacant.
Former Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson announced his resignation from public office on August 13. His resignation took effect September 30, when he ascended to the throne at Heartland Consumers Power District and made way for Richard Benda to take his sinecure. Yet according to KJAM, Governor Dennis Daugaard has yet to conduct interviews for the vacant Senate seat:
Tony Venhuizen, the Governor’s Director of Policy and Communications, tells KJAM News that the governor plans to have a replacement named prior to the legislative session, and will be interviewing for the position later this month.
The 2014 legislative session starts on January 14th [Sue Bergheim, "No Appointment Yet for District 8 Senate Seat," KJAM Radio, 2013.12.04].
I am tempted to say the Governor's lack of urgency shows just how little work Russ did in the Senate. But let's keep the focus on the Governor. We're coming up on crunch time. Voters in Moody, Lake, Miner, and Sanborn counties should be able to call their Senator in the month before session, voice their concerns, and propose legislative action. A new Senator should have at least the two months an election provides before session to get up to speed on the issues and prepare bills for submission.
Governor Daugaard has had ample time to pick a replacement (Charlie Johnson! Gerry Lange! Jerry Lammers!). Governor Daugaard appointed David Anderson to replace resigning District 16 Rep. Patty Miller in about six weeks. The Governor tightened up his appointment process and turned around Senator Mark Johnston's resignation with his appointment of R. Blake Curd in just over one month. Taking four months to get around to interviewing a replacement for Olson is slacking off. Get 'er done for District 8, Governor Daugaard!