GOP race for state Senate in District 25 features familiar names in South Dakota politics

South Dakota Legislative District 25 encompasses rural Minnehaha County and Moody County.
South Dakota Legislative District 25 encompasses rural Minnehaha County and Moody County.

The majority of Republican voters in rural Minnehaha County as well as Moody County will see a crowded field of state Senate candidates when they head to the polls on June 7.

The GOP primary contest features four established names in South Dakota politics, with three of the four having previously served in the state Legislature while a fourth has spent decades on the edges of it.

And because no Democrat, independent or non-Republican filed candidacies for the district's lone Senate seat, the victor in next month's primary election will go on to be seated in South Dakota's 98th Legislative Session.

More: Meet the South Dakota Legislature candidates vying for 3 GOP nominations in District 16

Editor's note: The Argus Leader submitted a series of questions to all candidates who will appear on the primary ballots, with a request that responses be kept to 100 words or less for each answer. Responses have been edited for grammar and clarity. 

The questions for primary candidates

1. The Senate is scheduled to hold an impeachment trial for Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg in late June for allegedly committing acts of malfeasance while in office, charges that stem from a 2020 crash investigation into the death of Joe Boever.

Given what you know about Ravnsborg’s conduct, which included lying to law enforcement about his cellphone usage the night of the crash and using members of his staff to glean information about how the investigation might be conducted, do you support the House’s decision to impeach, and would you vote to convict at trial?

2. Gov. Noem this year successfully blocked an attempt to reduce the state sales tax rate by .5% and a separate effort to eliminate sales tax on groceries also failed to earn passage.

How do you feel about the governor’s cautious approach to protecting existing government revenues amid record-setting surplus in state coffers in recent years?

3. Legislators in 2022 spent hours debating whether state government should prohibit employers from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is governments role in refereeing relationships between employers and employees with regard to vaccinations and individual rights?

More: Here are five disputes fueling Republican-on-Republican attacks in South Dakota

Tom Pischke

Age:  39

Profession/place of employment: System Quality Analyst for AllState Insurance

Prior public/community service:  6 years in the House of Representatives

Family: Wife, Lisa; children Jayden (12), Gavin (10), Brooklyn (10), Preston (8)

No. 1. Since I’m the only District 25 Senate candidate that had a vote on this issue as I’m a current member of the House of Representatives, and I voted No on impeachment, I likely would not support a conviction at a Senate trial.  This was a tragic accident and there may have been some missteps by the AG with his actions after the incident, but it did not rise to the level of impeachment.  If the impeachment resolution would have failed on April 12, there was another resolution ready to censure the AG and ask for his resignation, which I did plan on supporting.

Tom Pischke
Tom Pischke

No. 2. Personally, I feel it’s wrong that we failed to give any tax relief to the taxpayers of South Dakota.  The State Government has over $90M ongoing dollars that could have been given back to the taxpayers in the form of sales tax reduction or an elimination of the food tax.  This is the money of the hard-working taxpayers of South Dakota and the Government does not need these dollars to operate.  We had already given teachers and state employees large increases and taken care of our nursing homes.

No. 3. I agree that the state government should protect our God-given right of bodily autonomy.  Individuals should get to make their own medical decisions and not be coerced by government or big corporations.  Prior to 2020, when a dangerous disease surfaced to the public, the people were more than willing to get immunized voluntarily.  However, when an untested, unapproved shot is being forced upon the people for a disease that has very high survival rate, and the alternative is loss of employment, then Government should absolutely step in and protect the people.

More: As incumbent, Gov. Noem enjoying advantage over Haugaard in Republican primary

Lisa Rave

Age: 54

Profession/place of employment: Pharmacist, Avera Information Technology

Prior public/community service: South Dakota Board of Pharmacy board 2010-2019, Heartland Consumers Power District vice president 2009-present

Family: Husband Tim, son, daughter and son-in-law

Lisa Rave
Lisa Rave

No. 1. Given what is known about the conduct of Attorney General Ravnsborg following the accident that took Mr. Boever’s life and no evidence is presented during the Senate trial to contradict the facts already known; I support the decision to impeach and would vote to convict. In my opinion, the Attorney General’s conduct after the accident fails to meet the standards the citizens of South Dakota expect of their chief law enforcement officer.

No. 2. The primary source of the budget surplus for fiscal year 2022-2023 was the result of one-time federal relief money and the full impact of any on-going savings was not known during the 2022 legislative session.  I support the cautious approach taken by Gov. Noem and the legislature to wait for a full year of budget data before making any changes to the primary funding sources of South Dakota’s budget including sales tax.

No. 3. South Dakota businesses vary widely in their number of employees and how those employees interact with each other and the public.  A business that builds roads has different needs than one that takes care of the elderly.  Employers can take all the factors affecting their business into account when making decisions on employee vaccination requirements and tailor their policy to reflect those needs; legislation at the state level cannot.  State government should continue to allow employers to determine what is best for their employees and business.

Kevin Crisp

Age: 70

Profession/place of employment: Farmer

Prior public/community service: Two terms, South Dakota House of Representatives (1997-2001), Township Treasurer, Township Clerk; Township Supervisor, Minnehaha County Planning Commissioner, Original Washington Pavilion Study Task Force representing Minnehaha County, Minnehaha County Crop Improvement Association Officer, SD Extension Board, Southeast SD Experiment Farm Board President, South Dakota Corn Utilization Council President, U.S. Grains Council, Minnehaha County Extension Board, Dell Rapids Lumber Board

No. 1. The Attorney General’s accident compromised the AG title and position and has distracted lawmakers and the public to the point where other important concerns are not being addressed. In respect for the office, Mr. Boever’s death, and the citizens of South Dakota, he should immediately step down or into a different office so he could continue to pursue his goals but in a different capacity. I would now vote to convict.

Kevin Crisp
Kevin Crisp

No. 2. As the only District 25 candidate who has consistently made farming a top priority, I am concerned that the current approach harms farmers and rural communities. Lowering the state sales tax rate by .5% would have an immediate and positive impact. Instead, farmers have mounting issues—from big picture problems such as war, COVID-19, possible drought, poultry disease and inflation to more focused problems, such as Dicamba, trespassing and the S.D. Corn Council leveling a virtual tax on growers. S.D. must stop beating up on agriculture and provide the relief that farmers and citizens need.

No. 3. South Dakota needs to protect the individual rights of citizens. COVID-19 is very real, but how an individual wants to protect himself or herself is their individual right and choice. It should not be mandated by anyone or any organization.

More: What to know about Amendment C before voting in the South Dakota June 7 election

Leslie 'Doc' Heinemann

Age: 67

Profession/place of employment: Farmer, retired dentist

Prior public/community service:  Current medical director of the Southeast Technical College Dental Assisting program, Director on the Board of Sioux Valley Energy, Grand Knight-KC's, director on S.D. Right to Life, Moody County Republicans chairman; Past trustee of South Dakota Dental Association, Flandreau Indian School Chaplaincy board member, three-term representative in S.D. state House of Representatives, community library construction committee chair, dental care missionary at Rosebud Reservation and the country of Romania

Family: Wife Libby of 46 years, four children, nine grandchildren

No. 1. I have not weighed in on the conclusions drawn by everyone, particularly because the end result will be the same. I will be a delegate to the state convention in June, and it is my opinion Ravnsborg is not electable and will not be the AG nominee for the Republican party. You want me to disclose how I would vote in the trial by the Senate. If I do that, then why have a trial, if the decision is made before that comes to fruition?

Leslie Heinemann
Leslie Heinemann

No. 2. My past record would have supported a repeal of the half-cent sales tax. I have not, in the past, supported a repeal of the sales tax on groceries.

No. 3.  I believe government should not be involved in employer/employee relationships. I would support individual rights over government mandates. I have managed a staff in my dental practice for almost 40 years, and have considered the employees' individual rights to be of sincere importance.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Meet South Dakota Senate candidates running in District 25 GOP primary