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HB 1098: Make Secretary of Education Win Public Election!

Rock on, Jim Bolin! The Canton Cannonballer introduces House Bill 1098, a measure to make Secretary of Education an elected position.

More lines on the ballot, more people to vote for, more public officials required to lead public conversations and win the mandate of the people—yes, yes, yes!

Just 13 states elect their top education official, including our neighbors in Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. The Governor appoints South Dakota's education secretary, and the fewer people the Governor appoints, the better.

Rep. Bolin's bill puts the education secretary's office up for electoral grabs in 2018 (come on, Jim! We could declare an emergency and switch on a campaign this year!). Candidates would have to be 25, reside in South Dakota for at least two years, and hold a valid teacher's or school administrator's certificate.

Candidates would run in the primary and general election on a non-partisan ballot. That non-partisan status would require candidates for education secretary to work harder to get on the ballot than candidates for partisan state offices: under current vote totals, HB 1098 would require aspiring education secretaries to obtain almost 3,200 signatures on their nominating petitions, compared with just under 2,000 for Republicans and just over 1,200 for Democrats seeking other offices.

I think Bolin may just be setting himself up for a future candidacy. He abandoned his own candidacy for commission of school and public lands last fall, after realizing, I suspect, that the most boring job on the South Dakota ballot did not suit his desire to crusade for good education. If HB 1098 passes, expect a Bolin campaign for education secretary... and if that happens, expect me to run against him! (Now that would be fun.)


  1. rollin potter 2014.01.24

    Cory, I think you would make a good secretary but i am afraid you would have to give up your madville times blogs!!!! Would hate to lose that!!!! I'll have to think about that one!

  2. Rick 2014.01.24

    I applaud Jim Bolin, but this reminds me of Democrats calling for an elected Secretary of Agriculture. Problems run much deeper than that.

    Nobody's truly reformed state government offices since Dick Kneip was in office. I'm indifferent about the Department of Education Secretary election, except for the lousy job Republican governors have done since George Mickelson's first term to try to make a difference. It seems the GOP is interested only in cutting all state funding to schools and disbanding the U.S. Department of Education. Nothing will change until people in South Dakota realize these sleaze ball panderers are the true enemies to South Dakota's economic future.

    But if I were ruler for a month and could reorganize state agencies that make sense in the 21st Century, it would be:

    - Shut down the Public Utilities Commission, fire the three desk shuffler politicos who occupy space and waste taxes, fire Hunter Roberts (yes, I know it’s a different agency, duh!) because nothing of consequence happens in his office, and put it all under a state department of energy with a qualified secretary appointed by the governor. Create an advisory board of citizens to hear cases and make rulings that are enforced by the secretary/governor. It’s all political anyway, so let’s stop the kabuki theater pretending real hearings and impartial decisions get made. The next time TransCanada wants to ram another pipeline up South Dakota keister without due process, don’t blame the clowns in the PUC … put the blame where all the deals get cut anyway – The Office of Governor.

    - Merge the office of State Auditor into the office of State Treasurer. Until term limits ended his decades long tenure as Auditor, nobody knew what Vern Larson did or why he was appointed. People saw more of Punxsutawney Phil than of Vern Larson who collected a far bigger check than Phurry Phil.

    - Merge the office of Commissioner of School and Public Lands with the State Treasurer’s office. With this appendix function of state government and State Auditor eliminated, you not only get rid of two worthless politicos, but also their deputy officers. That’s four big salaries, folks. Gone!

    - Remove the corporate functions under the Secretary of State and move them over to Commerce where there will be more professional oversight. I’ll bet a few FTEs will be removed in the move.

    - Eliminate the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and its board. Since we haven’t had a governor since Mickelson who knew what to do with that bloated and pampered agency, let the private sector do this. (Hey, Republicans! Hey, State Chamber!) If there are grants, cheap loans and welfare to be doled out to rich corporate pals, place the oversight under Labor or Commerce and let a qualified citizens board handle the business in public meetings that are models of transparency.

    - Eliminate the state office of tourism. Let the private sector handle it, Republicans. Heck, most of the money goes to Lawrence & Schiller anyway, home of the state GOP chair. Get state funding out of it. How many times can you say Mount Rushmore, Mount Rushmore, Mount Rushmore?

    I could go on and on, but so far with a simple overview of waste and political boondoggling, I’ve cut three PUC members, the PUC executive director, two state department secretaries plus their deputies, the head of GOED and several unneeded political appointees, the head of Tourism and several unneeded political appointees and many support staff who are no longer needed in our Capitol Building. If you removed one of the two Chiefs of Staff (Tony or Dusty?), cut the press office in half and a few other political appointees in the Governor’s cabinet, more hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars get saved.

    And what about the Legislature? Nebraska has a far larger population (1.9 million citizens) with a major metro area, yet there are only 49 members in its legislature. Our state has 105 people collecting pay and getting far less done. Cut the snake in half and keep one end. Fire the other. Create one chamber with 50 seats from 50 districts. Stagger elections allowing four-year terms so that 25 members are elected in one year and two years later the other 25 are elected. Limit legislators to two terms if you wish … and no more ducking from the House and Senate. When they’re out, they’re out!

    If I were a Republican, like Jim Bolin, I’d be campaigning on this and more. What state government needs to do is hire a “turn-around CEO” for a year and really set an example to the rest of us. Or maybe those neo-cons in Pierre should just admit they’re blind, disinterested and wasteful spenders who have no use for state government other than as a full employment opportunity to fill their pockets and their pals’ pockets and lie to taxpayers.

  3. Rod Hall 2014.01.24

    Don Barnhardt was the last elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. His most eloquent statement was "No governor is going to lead me around by the nose!" Gov. Kneip did not like that comment and was allowed under the reorganization to appoint several secretaries of education and cultural affairs. An elected non-partisan candidate could serve the students and people of South Dakota far better than the "political appointees"subject only to a perfunctory approval by the state senate.

  4. Francie 2014.01.24

    Dear Rick: I agree with enough of your proposed platform to give you my vote. Please run.

  5. Tara Volesky 2014.01.24

    Rod Hall, our next secretary of education!!!!!

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.24

    Rick, holy cow! You just saved the state... what, $3 million? without breaking a sweat? Keep the ideas coming!

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.24

    Rod: we used to elect our Superintendent of Education? I didn't know that! And Kneip, a Democrat, changed that?

    What did our elected superintendents do, back before national standards, and what kinds of issues did they campaign on?

  8. Bill Dithmer 2014.01.24

    This has always interested me. The governor decided back in 1972 that we needed to make government more efficient. I don't remember what it was called at the time but it forever changed what duties the legislature carried out after that.

    In this Re Opinion of the Justices they more or less said he did have the power to force reorganization to happen.

    A lot of things changed including the secretary of education's job and the power that the governor gained over the state's GF&P's department.

    There is some interesting history from back then about South Dakota.

    The Blindman

  9. Nick Nemec 2014.01.25

    I would propose the $3,000,000+ that Rick just saved by streamlining government and cutting political appointees be used to leverage hundreds of millions of Federal money and expand Medicaid. This would be better economic development than anything GOED has done in years.

  10. interested party 2014.01.25

    Don Kopp for Office of Public Instruction? Betty Olson? Manny Steele?

    You people scare the spit out of me.

  11. grudznick 2014.01.25

    Mr. Rick has the best post of the year.
    Mr. Bolin has swell hair, but he is insaner than some.

  12. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.26

    Geesh, I came to this conversation late, but grudz hit the nail on the head, on Rick's being the best post of the year. He had me at eliminate the PUC and get rid of Hunter Roberts, one of the nepotism members of our State Government and the Governor contributes another couple. Unless I am mistaken, there are about 10 staff in the PUC in addition to the commissioners.

    The PUC can't be too important of a job, since three of the past 4 elected members have resigned before their term was up and Dusty resigned right after being reelected, to take the Chief of Staff job in the Governor's office. Then look at how little they have gotten done as far as cell phone coverage in the state. Top that off with the Big Stone II and Basin Electric Selby power plants that they approved, which went by the wayside because of other regulatory agencies. The PUC has been little more than a rubber stamp of whatever the utilities want.

  13. Tara Volesky 2014.02.23

    I.P. Have you ever sat down and talked to Lora Hubble about education. Last time I talked to her she supports teachers and their experience and knowledge when it comes to teaching and testing students. She supports local control and letting parents and schools decide on curriculum and testing instead of Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard who sold out to corporate educational lobbyists. These giant corporations will make millions of dollars off our local school districts. I respect Lora, the Lady Giant Killer who is on a mission to take down the corrupt, crony republican regime who has been in control of SD for 40 years.

  14. interested party 2014.02.23

    Hey: if Hubbel holds DD responsible for Bendagate during the earth hater gube primary that works for me.

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