Both candidates for South Dakota’s governorship, Republican Kristi Noem and Democrat Billie Sutton, visited the Black Hills on the campaign trail last week, reports the Rapid City Journal. In remarks Thursday in Rapid City, Sutton, a self-described fifth-generation farmer and rancher, outlined his plans for agriculture in South Dakota and criticized President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs.
Sutton’s agricultural plan, “Planting Seeds for Growth”, includes promises of a push for country of origin labels on South Dakota products, a conversion of state government vehicles to E-30 blend fuel, and a change in state tax policy so that land is taxed based on use rather than “highest and best use”. Currently soil ratings are used to determine best use and land is taxed accordingly, despite farmers’ and ranchers’ plans.
During her time as South Dakota’s Representative in the House, Noem supported a bill that resembles Sutton’s proposed change in tax policy. The bill, if it had been approved in 2010, would have allowed landowners to ask for reclassification of land that had been grass for a minimum of 10 years to non-cropland, even if the soil was rated for crops. However, the bill was changed severely in the Senate and failed in conference committee.
Noem, who has tied her campaign closely to President Trump, also visited the Black Hills last week, outlining her plan for South Dakota’s veterans – Operation Rally Point – in Hot Springs. Noem promised better customer service for veterans and a commitment to keeping the Hot Springs Veterans Affairs Hospital open.
Noem was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and has been re-elected three times. Sutton was first elected to the South Dakota State Senate in 2010 and has served since. Noem and Sutton are in competition for the governorship of South Dakota - the general election is scheduled to take place November 6th.
For more news about elections in the Black Hills and South Dakota, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Government and Citizenship issue hub.