KATIE ZERR: Forum shows the best sides of candidates


Listening to politicians talk about themselves, their parties, current issues and why they should be elected is not high on the list of how some would like to spend three or four hours of their life. But for anyone with an interest in the future of the city, county, state and nation, it should be near the top of that list.

On Saturday, May 3, candidates for offices in Walworth County and the seat in District 23 of South Dakota’s House of Representatives gathered in Akaska to meet their constituents, listen to their concerns, and voice their opinions on a variety of issues.

For one who had just weeks before listened to 90 minutes of half-truths, accusations, issue dodging one-liners and opponent bashing, it was refreshing to hear a healthy exchange between people who have the needs of the people they could represent in their minds.

These candidates answered the questions that were asked without dancing around the meat of the issue or trying to cover up the fact that they didn’t answer with polished platitudes. These candidates told people what they thought about the issues being raised. They didn’t dodge the question by pointing out what bad people there are in office now or that are currently running for office. In fact, one candidate at Saturday’s forum talked about his opponent’s positive traits because that candidate could not make the event.

Justin Cronin, the current holder of one of the two seats for the House that are up for election, took time out from preparing for the funeral of a friend to make the trip to Akaska. He was clearly pre-occupied with what was going on in Gettysburg, but he pulled through it and gave what was asked of him.

As one who has carefully watched Cronin’s work in the legislature through the years, it is clear that our district is represented well by this man. He has grown into a representative of the people who puts common sense and the needs of his constituents in his decisions.

Listening to those seeking seats in the district, one can hear they are a bit unpolished, but there was little wavering in their answers. One knows where they stand on the issues and where their hearts are. That is very important for someone who will represent our interests on the state level in the coming years. There are some solid choices for those who have not yet made up their mind for whom they will vote in June.

As for the county candidates, there was a little less time spent with them than one would like. Their answers were brief and some had a little less meat to them, but overall they were to the point and conveyed the candidate’s stand on the issue in question.

For Walworth County voters, it is important to take into consideration which candidate will represent their best interests. The candidates are running for a reason. It is up to the voters to decide if they are running for the people of their precinct or if they have a personal agenda.

In this case there may be no one with an agenda, but there have been people seeking office in our county that have run only to protect what is theirs and to keep other taxpayers from getting equal representation on the board. Others have run for the extra money and the benefits, hurting those they were elected to represent.

Sometimes the voters become lazy and cast ballots for a familiar name, not for the candidate. That certainly can and has backfired.

A point that was brought up at the forum by one of the candidates for sheriff Al Bohle is one that all South Dakotans should consider.

Bohle said he did not understand why some offices on the county level, such as sheriff, are party affiliated. He asked why it is fair that elections such as the one in which he is now involved are chosen by only the Republicans in the county.

Bohle is right and there should be a push to get this law changed on the state level. It is important for party affiliation to be a part of elections where decisions are made about the government. Why is it important to have a Republican, Democrat or Independent as a sheriff or treasurer or auditor?

All of these races will be decided in the June 2 Republican primary.

Shouldn’t everyone have a voice? Isn’t that what elections are all about?


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