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Krebs Shrinking Government, Says Leaner Staff Working Hard

When incoming Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced she was hiring Brown County GOP chairman Jason Williams to serve as her public information officer, I wondered if she was expanding government to make room for what looked like a little partisan patronage.

Secretary Krebs tells this blog there's no government expansion going on under her watch. Secretary Krebs says that, while she is still bound by law to operate under her predecessor Jason Gant's budget until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, she's already making the office run leaner. Gant's budget included 15.6 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Right now, Secretary Krebs is holding down the fort with 13.5 FTEs. That's not just a temporary lag in bringing new people on board; Secretary Krebs says that's plenty. The Secretary's office has not prepared a budget proposal yet (they have petition reform legislation to write up for tomorrow's pre-filing deadline—stay tuned for a post on that topic over the weekend!), but Secretary Krebs says that instead of continuing the 15.6 FTE allocation found in Governor Daugaard's FY 2016 proposal, she may knock another half FTE off her current staff and budget 13.0 FTE.

Multiple Krebs staff members are thus picking up duties that were spread among others in the Gant office. Secretary Krebs says PIO Williams is no exception. In addition to getting the word out about SOS activities to the public, Williams will handle special projects, like Secretary Krebs's initiative to increase voter turnout. Secretary Krebs says Williams is already studying turnout data, breaking it down by age group, and thinking about which voters to target and how. Expect PIO Williams to be getting out to schools, talking with voters, and looking for answers to our dwindling turnout.

In addition, Williams will track legislation for the Secretary of State's office. He'll be following the progress of the reforms proposed by the Board of Elections. He'll also keep an eye out for new bills from legislators and researching their impact on the office. He'll report on those bills to the boss, the Secretary herself, who will then speak to legislators in committee and in the lobby, as necessary, to protect the interests of fair elections and other functions of the Secretary of State.

Secretary Krebs says Williams and the rest of her staff are putting in overtime and delivering "exceptional" customer service. The Secretary herself seems to be setting the pace. Consider that, in response to a media inquiry from this blog, the Secretary herself texted me at 6:25 a.m. today. She had meetings all day, but she arranged to visit with me on the phone at 6:30 p.m. She said she had 10 minutes; she gave me 19.

I did not keep track of the multiple times I left messages for Secretary Gant and never heard back from him. But so far, Secretary Krebs is batting 1.000 on fielding media requests from the Madville Times. Perhaps the state's chief election officer has bigger fish to fry than speaking to some blogger, but I find my first interaction with the new election chief... satisfactory.


  1. Jeff Barth 2015.01.08

    When Secretary Krebs was a State Senator she helped me with county issues a couple of times. At that time she was my constituent, I was not hers. She found solutions quickly and operated in a business like manner.

    I hope she keeps it up. It will be a welcome change in Pierre.

  2. CLCJM 2015.01.08

    Glad to hear that, Jeff. A Republican who actually solves problems quickly and in a business like manner would be a refreshing change. Perhaps our auditor, Bob Litz, could take a lesson...or two from her. Especially her work ethic and office hours!

  3. Les 2015.01.08

    If her staff is any indication of the future, it will be good for all the citizens of our little state regardless of party.

  4. Moses 2015.01.08

    Is Gant going back to Geddes.

  5. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.08

    It all sounds good for SOS Krebs. I'm glad to hear it.

    Shell have to keep an eye on the overtime. It could negate the savings of having fewer employees. Time will tell.

  6. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    I'm pleased to hear that Mrs. Krebs is off to a good start. I'm also pleased to hear she has tasked Mr. Williams with increasing voter turnout. As I've said before I'll reserve judgement until I see what they do in Indian Country, specifically early voting sites in remote communities, and making registration to vote an easier process. Telling the Jackson County Commissioners and Auditor to drop their legal attempts to suppress Native turnout would be a nice first step.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.09

    Deb, I'd watch that overtime as much for performance impact as for fiscal impact. The Secretary's higher-up aides like Williams and Deadrick are salaried, not hourly, so keeping them late doesn't eat into the budget. During crunch time (this transition, petition deadline, and election weeks), staff's gotta do what they've gotta do, but they will need their rest eventually so they can stay chipper when dealing with pesky bloggers.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.09

    Nick's on target: promoting the early-voting satellite stations is an easy, affordable way to increase turnout.

  9. Jeff Barth 2015.01.09

    Nick is right about the access to voting issue in Indian Country. The efforts made to block Natives from voting are heartbreaking, absurd and wrong. I hope our new SOS will fix them.

    Is it true that Pennington opens a satellite voting center in Wall?

  10. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    Jeff, I've also heard that Pennington County runs a remote early voting station in Wall. If they do I congratulate them for taking voter convenience into consideration. Wall is a good sized town about 55 miles from Rapid City and that 110 mile round trip makes it much harder for voters in eastern Pennington County to exercise their franchise.

  11. PlanningStudent 2015.01.09

    Pennington County offers several county services in Wall year round, absentee voting, SoDak doesn't have early voting, is one of those services.

    I think one of the best ways to increase access to absentee voting would be to utilize City Halls. Each City Hall is already tied into the SOS / county auditor voter registration system . Lots of synergy, very few new costs..

  12. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    You're right Planning Student, SD offers absentee voting with no excuse needed. In effect it's early voting, semantics.

    Using the City Halls in non county seat towns is a good idea, the people are already in place and there would be little if any added cost. Using tribal offices on reservations would be a similar way to provide voting services with little added cost.

  13. Moses 2015.01.09

    Where Gant now is he back at geddes

  14. Charlie Hoffman 2015.01.10

    If anyone remembers Alice Kundert and her powerful opinion on matters political and non-political I still say the inferno of energy Secretary Krebs brings to the table will infect everyone in her office which parlays into a SOS's position over-riding all attempts at subverting the will of the people in regard to voting thereby insuring honesty at all levels.

    (you're going to be making sure all those sigs are correct before handing in any petition)

  15. larry kurtz 2015.01.10

    Charlie is terrified of Somalis in Minnesota while chiding President Obama for being a Muslim sympathizer.

  16. larry kurtz 2015.01.10

    Krebs is a duplicitous social climber willing to deny voting rights to anyone who would threaten SDGOP rule.

  17. larry kurtz 2015.01.10

    Alice Kundert used her office to ensure that SDGOP marginalized any and all opposition.

  18. JeniW 2015.01.10

    I remember Alice. I remember her as a kind person, but no one messed with Alice. She was highly respected, though I am sure there were those who did not like her.

  19. Bob Klein 2015.01.10

    It ain't too hard to get leaner than Gant. Only PP had problems with that.

  20. Bob Klein 2015.01.10

    On a serious note, it sure shouldn't take many hours to figure out where voter registration and voter turnout is low. I expect I can find neighborhoods (or should I say trailer parks?) in Brookings where there are similar issues.

    I will eagerly await results.

  21. grudznick 2015.01.10

    Mr. kurtz makes me feel warm in my belly about having a new woman SOS.

  22. grudznick 2015.01.10

    Mr. Gant is probably at the big dance tonight where they wear bow ties and celebrate all the GOP winnings until late in the night.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.10

    Naughty, Bob... although you do remind us that physical heft was the only real weight Gant brought to the office.

    On your serious note, true, Jason Williams shouldn't have to search too hard to find low voter turnout. He should be setting up a booth at the Student Union any day now....

  24. grudznick 2015.01.10

    Mr. H, if you get pictures of Mr. Gant at the big ball please post them for us to see.

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