Five seek Republican nomination for state House

Ron Burtz

By Ron Burtz

A total of five Republicans are running to get on the November general election ballot for two seats representing District 30 in the South Dakota House of Representatives. The GOP candidates include incumbent Trish Ladner, who just completed her first two-year term in the House, and four newcomers seeking to either replace Ladner or take the seat vacated by Rep. Tim Goodwin who is running for the senate. The newcomers include (in alphabetical order) Patrick “Pat” Baumann, Lisa Gennaro, J.R. Herrick and Dennis Krull.
Baumann is retired but remains active as he and his wife lead The Body of Christ Ministry and the Black Granite Retreat at their family ranch near Custer. He said he decided to seek election to the House of Representatives because “like many people in District 30, I have become deeply concerned by what I see happening in South Dakota and across our nation.”
“There is an attempt by government to control people, families, businesses and churches,” said Baumann. “Spending is out of control and our elections are being tampered with. I stand with the people of District 30 to push back upon government overreach and out of control spending. I support our constitution, election integrity and family values.”
Calling himself a Christian patriot (not a career politician), Baumann said he follows God’s lead and supports what made this state and this nation great.
“I feel led to be in government to make a positive change for the people, not to have a career in politics,” he said.
A third generation Black Hills resident, Baumann has lived in Rapid City, Custer and Edgemont and his career involved agriculture, tourism, sales, forestry, mining and even ministry. He said that experience has given him an understanding of what is important to the district and an appreciation of its people and their values.
“In 2018, I retired as a senior manager for a mining company,” said Baumann. “In that position I was responsible for budgets of up to $180 million and managed hundreds of employees and contractors. I understand the importance of managing money wisely and planning the work before working the plan. I have proven experience at successfully bringing diverse groups of people together to accomplish important goals.”
While this is Baumann’s first run for the legislature, during the past two legislative sessions he has served as a volunteer lobbyist.
“I met with senators and representatives in support of a Convention of States, under Article V of our United States Constitution,” said Baumann. “My legislative activity went beyond those annual legislative sessions and included providing public education, gathering petition signatures and hosting public meetings year round.”
Baumann said a priority over the next two years must be for the state to continue to push back against federal government overreach. Noting that both the state and national constitutions provide for “we the people” to regulate government from the bottom up, Baumann said “currently, there is an attempt by government to control people from the top down.” He said this practice must stop now.
“Our state budget must be reevaluated and controlled to stay within state revenue levels,” said Baumann.
“Like our family budgets, we must spend our money on programs we need to have, not on programs that we want to have,” he said. “We must stop accepting ‘free’ federal monies. There is no such thing as a free lunch. All federal monies have conditions attached which in turn regulate South Dakotans.”
Baumann said with the large influx of new residents currently coming into the district, “property values are skyrocketing and along with it, so are our property taxes.” He said tax laws must be adjusted to eliminate the large annual leaps in property taxes now being seen. “The change that catches my attention the most is to implement a statewide consumption tax to replace and eliminate all current property taxes and sales taxes,” he said.
“We’ve seen a constant attack on our Second Amendment rights,” added Baumann. “Our right to keep and bear arms is being steadily eroded. I stand to push back on all attempts to remove gun ownership.”
Among the other issues on which Baumann wants to see movement over the next couple of years, he said election integrity must be addressed because it is the key to how the rest of our government works.
“Without our vote we have no anything,” said Baumann. “I believe in proper voter ID, paper ballots, hand counting, monitoring of counting areas and hand audits of a percentage of all ballots. All machines are hackable and have no place in our voting system. At the very least, forensic audits of machines should occur after each election.”
When asked why voters should elect him when they go to the polls, Baumann replied, “I have proven experience at successfully bringing diverse groups of people together to accomplish important goals. I am not a career politician. My only motive for running for office is to make a positive change in the direction our government is heading. I will work very hard to ensure that our children and our grandchildren have the same constitutional rights that we’ve enjoyed. I will stand beside the people of District 30 to protect our freedoms.”
Gennaro is the owner of a home health agency which covers six counties in Western South Dakota. She said she decided to run for the House because, working with Concerned Women for America, she has helped to pass good bills during recent legislative sessions.
“The last two years at the capital, even though we have some good representatives, I have also seen some representatives vote more and more off of feelings instead of using common sense and facts,” said Gennaro, “so I want to let the people know I will be their voice and represent the truth.”
As for her strengths and skills, Gennaro lists that she is first of all “a listener,” as well as a “problem-solver” and “not a quitter” who is “able to bring decision-makers together.”
While she has never served in the legislature, Genarro said she does have valuable experience in Pierre.
“I have been at the capital for the last four years during legislative session,” said Gennaro, “testifying on bills and working across the aisles talking to representatives. I know how the process works so, when elected, I can hit the ground running. Most of the other candidates will need time to figure out how the process works before they can really be effective. I will be effective right away because I know how it works.”
Gennaro lists three issues she believes will be the most important ones the state will face over the next two years starting with the preservation of personal freedoms which, if not fought for, will be lost.
“Just our simple freedoms as we know it won’t be the same if we don’t fight for them,” she said. “They are slowly trying to take our freedom of speech.”
Secondly, Gennaro said she wants to ensure that American companies continue to own the land and the businesses which she said is important to “keep South Dakota’s way of life, morals and freedoms.”
Lastly, Gennaro said she wants to make sure parental rights are protected and will work to build education, protect freedom of speech, the Second Amendment, freedom of religion and the Constitution.
Among the biggest issues Gennaro believes the state will face in coming years are property taxes, the growth of new businesses and state population and law and order, since “crime is on the rise.” Gennaro said she has already been working on the property tax issue with both local community members and the secretary of the state Department of Revenue.
“I have donated my time in helping the community way before I decided to run for the House,” said Gennaro, in explaining why voters should pick her for District 30. “The last four years I have been public awareness for the West River Sex Trafficking Task Force. My heart goes out to our youth. I go into the schools and talk to them about healthy relationships and giving them hope for the future. I volunteer at the capital every year to testify and lobby for good bills during the legislative session. I am a person who has already been involved in trying to keep our state a great state in which to live. I am not just starting to get involved in our community or state just because I am running for office. I have always been involved.”
Gennaro said, as a person who has always had to work hard for everything, she is not afraid of hard work. And she said family is her priority and she always wants them to know they are first in her mind. In a world of givers and takers, Gennaro said she is a giver.
“If I can help others, I will,” she said. “I have been married for 30 years to a wonderful man. I have owned three businesses. We have taken in foster teenage girls and foreign exchange students. We were youth leaders when our daughters were in high school. I enjoy hiking, riding my motorcycle and traveling. My faith keeps me strong. Believe me, I will always do my best to work hard for you and your families, just like mine. Remember, ‘We stand together, we win together!’”
Candidate J.R. Herrick works as a concrete finisher for Complete Concrete Solutions and says he is running because nobody is standing up for or representing the taxpayer.
“I believe we can do better about solving our property tax problem using a conservative approach to our inflated budgets!” he said. “I believe ‘we the people’ are being mandated and taxed out of our homes and off our ranches. We need people in Pierre to stand up and not take no for an answer to property tax reduction and cut ‘wants’ from our state budget. I believe we taxpayers are tired of the ‘can’t’ attitude in our representation.”
In listing the skills and strengths he would bring to the position, Herrick said he and his wife Mary have owned and operated small businesses in Custer and Hot Springs and continue to own and lease houses in Hot Springs and land in Edgemont for future housing projects.
“We also own and operate MH Construction, doing small to large projects,” he said. “We developed property and built south of Pringle for our personal residence. I have a BS in economics with a focus on taxes and tax reduction to grow our economy, budget restraint, and private sector solutions. Experience in the different businesses we’ve operated can give me a good base to help tackle solutions in Pierre.”
Herrick said he believes it is important to attract more industry and employees to the state and to retain young people in the state and its communities as well.
“What we are doing is not working now,” said Herrick, which is why he is asking District 30 residents to vote for him. “What we need is change and people that have South Dakota ideals!”
Retired Hill City businessman Dennis Krull said he is running for the South Dakota House for two reasons: “Less taxes” and “less government control.” Krull, who owned and operated Krull’s Market in Hill City with his wife Kim from 1992 until their retirement in 2012, said the property tax system “needs to be reviewed to determine if this is the best way to fund local governments and school districts.”
“Property taxes are based on what you own,” said Krull, “not on the ability to pay. With that said, I am not in favor of an income tax.”
Quoting President Abraham Lincoln who said, “government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more,” Krull is an advocate of less government control.
“I believe in the cause-and-effect form of government, just like we did when we ran our business,” said Krull. “If you decide to do something, how does it affect everything else? Every bill that has to do with money should have a fiscal note attached to it. What will it cost the taxpayers going forward?”
“Over the years my wife and I have had the privilege of owning and operating numerous small businesses,” said Krull. “We started out in the grocery business in Armour, later buying stores in Hill City and Wall and we also owned a fine dining restaurant. We know the importance of hard work as well as what it takes to keep a business running. I have lived my whole life in South Dakota, except for a short period of time (Northern California for about a year). I am a third-generation businessman. I have lived in District 30 for the last 30 years. I have served on numerous boards and that has taught me how to work with other people to get things done.”
Krull said the biggest issue facing South Dakota over the next couple of years will be property taxes. He said the dilemma is, “how do we keep the services that we have grown accustomed to and lower or eliminate property tax?”
“District 30 is a very broad and diversified district,” said Krull. “We have agriculture, mining, tourism, small business, retired people and the VA Hospital. If elected, I would like to hear from the voters of District 30 what is important to them.”
Krull said he would like the legislature to study and see why in 2016 the half cent sales tax that was supposed to be for teachers’ salaries and property tax reduction was repealed and put into the General Fund.
“I would also like to see why the property tax reduction fund that was passed in 1996 was repealed in 2015 and put in the General Fund,” he said.
“Our roots grow deep in this great state my family and I call home,” said Krull, “and my motive for running for office is simply that I want to preserve the great way of life our ancestors have worked so hard for. I want to maintain the freedoms of our constitution and keep our government on a common sense and moral path going forward. I believe in the importance of education and see the need to raise up the next generation to succeed us.”
“I know that if I am elected, I will be working for the people of District 30 and should be held accountable to them,” said Krull. “It is not so much what I want to do if I am elected. It is what you want me to do. I will work hard, listen to both sides and do my best for the people of District 30 and the state of South Dakota.”
Ladner, the lone incumbent in the race, is a small business owner and entrepreneur who resides in Hot Springs. She said she is seeking reelection because she wants to continue the work of representing the voters of District 30 in Pierre and listening to them.
“As the incumbent, I have a proven track record of fighting for lower taxes,” said Ladner. “I have fought against the expansion of Custer State Park, worked to correct soil classification for our ranchers and advocated for 70 percent of the new housing infrastructure dollars to be earmarked for smaller towns throughout South Dakota...and I am not done yet!”
She said coming from a corporate background where she managed a multi-million-dollar budget, she looks forward to solving problems at the state level rather than just complaining about them.
“Currently, as a small business owner, I understand the challenges business owners face such as taxes, lack of employees and supply chain issues,” said Ladner, “and I bring that perspective to Pierre.”
She said she is not afraid of rolling up her sleeves to stand up for District 30, its communities and the constitution.
Asked what current leadership positions she holds in the House of Representatives, Ladner responded: “I was elected by my peers to serve on the Executive Board. The Executive Board convenes when the legislature gavels out in March and runs the legislative arm of the state until the legislature reconvenes in January. As a member of the board, I serve as co-chair for the Budget Committee and have recently been voted as the chair of the Property Tax Summer Study. I am also on the Ag & Natural Resource Committee and the Commerce & Energy Committee.”
Over the next two years Ladner expects the most important issues to be faced by the legislature to include dealing with rising property taxes, keeping the veterans facilities in Hot Springs open, inflation, food sustainability, K-12 curriculum and workforce housing.
“I believe that the largest issue District 30 is facing over the next two years is our escalating property taxes,” said Ladner. “As a result of COVID we have seen a huge influx of new residents to District 30, purchasing property and homes, causing property assessments to skyrocket! I have been working on reducing property taxes for the past two years.”
In March, as a member of the Executive Board, Ladner proposed the conducting of a legislative summer study on property taxes. The study was approved, and she was elected chair of the committee which will be comprised of 15 legislators from across the state.
“This summer study will be looking at the existing South Dakota property tax structure,” said Ladner, “it will compare taxation methods of similar states and examine tax assessment guidelines. We will work together to consider means by which the total property tax burden of South Dakotans could be decreased.”
“In District 30 and across the state, we are in dire need of workforce housing,” added Ladner. “Many business owners I have spoken to have said that when they recruit an employee, oftentimes they are unable to find housing and are forced to decline the position. I am a firm believer that in most cases, private enterprise rises to the needs of a community without government intervention. However, with a lack of a labor force and tradespeople, solving the need for workforce housing is even more pressing.”
Also under the heading of workforce housing, Ladner said she is a big advocate of South Dakota’s trade schools and certificate programs.
“I believe by developing the trades we can solve our labor issues and as a result the workforce housing shortage by growing our own electricians, plumbers, framers, etc.,” said Ladner. “I would like to see us continue to grow trade programs like we see at Western Dakota Tech. These certificate programs work in conjunction with local businesses and I’ve been told that most of the students from Western Dakota Tech graduate with good paying jobs in place.”
Ladner said a more long-term issue she hopes to see addressed is the West River water supply.
“There is a group of legislators currently working on a Missouri River project that will bring rural water from the Missouri River to the Rapid City, Black Hills area,” said Ladner. “This project is crucial if we want to sustain our communities going forward.”
“I am the only candidate for the House of Representatives (in District 30) with experience as a legislator in Pierre and have a proven track record of fighting against high taxes including HB1039 and HB1325 for our ranchers,” noted Ladner. “I also supported HB1001 that increased the threshold of income and property values in order for elderly and disabled residents to qualify for a property tax freeze. Next, I’d like to address residential, commercial buildings and ag/ranch property taxes. I am pro-gun and have an A rating from the NRA. I am pro-life and pro-family and have a 100 percent pro-family voting record with the Family Heritage Alliance. I am not afraid of hard work or to stand up for the people of District 30 because I work for them!”
“It is an honor to serve you in Pierre,” concluded Ladner, “and, even though I am not in favor of the current political climate in Washington, DC, we need to stay focused on District 30 issues and concerns, especially in these challenging times we are facing. Remember, I didn’t go to Pierre with a ‘cause.’ I went to Pierre to represent and work for the South Dakota voters of District 30. I’d appreciate your vote on June 7. There’s more work to do!”


User login