South Dakota gubernatorial candidates debate for first and only time
Three candidates give wide-ranging views on several issues heading into November election
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - South Dakota’s incumbent governor faced her challengers in the only gubernatorial debate before the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, Democratic state Rep. Jamie Smith and Independent Tracey Quint squared off Friday, Sept. 30 in the Rapid City debate sponsored by KOTA Territory News, KEVN Black Hills Fox and Dakota News Now.
You can review the debate here; getting the candidate’s views on:
Smith said he is in favor of cutting taxes on groceries, and the state can replace that revenue with taxes on recreational marijuana. Marijuana was something the people voted for, and says as a leader, he needs to listen to the voices of the people, and voters have stated they do want to legalize marijuana.
Noem recently said she did change her stance on grocery tax, saying now she does want to lessen the financial burdens of South Dakotan’s. On the topic of legalizing marijuana, Noem says she will implement the passing of recreational marijuana if the people vote they are in favor of it.
Quint said she would give the people what they want regarding recreational marijuana.
Noem does not support the expansion of Medicaid, saying it would cost the state $80 million. Noem said she has tried to increase telemedicine to decrease the cost of travel for those who live in rural communities and allow them to have better access to healthcare. She said she has also worked to try and improve transparency with insurance companies, so people know what they will and will not cover. Noem said she would not change her stance on abortion and would keep the trigger laws in place.
Smith said he is in favor of Medicaid expansion, so those in need would have some relief if they were faced with a huge medical bill. Smith says it will not cost as much as Noem claims. Smith said that Noem believes a ten-year-old should carry a baby after she was raped, as the law currently stands; Smith says, “That is not compassion. We need to make sure there are exceptions for rape and incest in South Dakota.” Smith also says doctors need to be able to work without the fear of being prosecuted for doing their job. Smith said the government should not get in the way of women getting the medical care that they need. Smith said he doesn’t think he is being radical, it’s what the South Dakotans what.
Quint said if the voters show they are for Medicaid expansion, then she would deliver. Quint said she would shy away from adding to the state’s expenses when it comes to expanding Medicaid but says there are ways the state can save money to fund Medicaid. Quint said the issue of abortion should be left to the individual involved and their medical professional and said, “We can’t put our own values onto someone else’s decisions. I think that’s a personal and medical decision that people have to make for themselves.”
Noem’s ethics complaints
Noem responded to questions about her ethics complaints and said, “this matter is closed. It is very clear that my daughter never wanted special treatment.” Noem said the complaints came from former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who killed a man and left his body in a ditch.
Smith said the judges found there was a reason for concern with Noem’s ethics complaints. Smith said the complaints against Noem began with legislatures, not former Attorney General Ravnsborg. Smith said, “South Dakotans, you know the difference between right and wrong, and I’m sure you can see the difference in this one.” Smith said he would put the state’s checkbook online and uphold transparency as governor. Smith said one of the ethics complaints against Noem involved her use of the State’s airplane. Smith said it took pushing for a long time in order for people to find out where the state’s plane was traveling.
Quint believes there should be transparency in government, and if she were elected, she would want to look and see where the government is currently inefficient and then work to build a better government. She would like to reduce taxes, increase safety in the state and look at criminal justice reform and look at our methods for rehabilitating offenders. As a libertarian, she would look for ways to reduce taxes and create laws that are fair for everybody.
Critical Race Theory
In response to the topic of Critical Race Theory, Noem said she’s allowing parents to have more say over their children’s education and shielding students from Marxist ideologies.
Smith said there was no Critical Race Theory being taught in elementary schools. Smith said educators are professionals, and they need to teach a curriculum that is relevant to South Dakota.
Quint said we need to teach history the way it took place, “We need to teach real and true history in order to learn from it.” She said we do need to make sure it’s age-appropriate, but we need to make educators that were trained to educate and involve parents in that discussion as well.
Government’s role in regulating COVID
In regards to the pandemic, Smith said by doing little things like using face coverings, we can ensure that people stay healthy and keep businesses open. Smith said 3,000 people died in the state of South Dakota, and it’s a larger number per capita than surrounding states. Smith was not using COVID as a political football. He said in a pandemic, we need to work together and speak to doctors to make sure we can stay safe as a community.
Defending her actions during the pandemic, Noem said, “I got up every day thinking of you.” She said she talked to health care professionals and listened to their advice.
Quint said shutting everything down caused mental health issues. However, contracting COVID caused physical issues. Quint said allowing people to have a personal choice is something she believes in, and the government did not have the authority to impose precautionary actions on South Dakotans.
Smith said there is a strained if not broken relationship with the tribes in South Dakota. Smith said he made relationships with the tribes in South Dakota, and he has an open door and is willing to listen to the Native Americans. He said he wants to recognize the people that were here first, and he wants to show them respect to improving South Dakota.
Quint said Native Americans need to be a part of the conversation.
Noem said she’s invited and hosted tribal leadership, inviting them to have discussions and do things we can do together. Noem said there’s a relationship between law enforcement where our deputies will assist, she said they have made moves to help addiction and mental health. She said she’s given them grants and given them opportunities to increase tourism.
Noem said in closing, “Thank you, everybody. The next few years will be challenging because Biden is in office, and Smith supports him. Noem claimed she would put more money in South Dakotan pockets, and recognized everyone has been through some unprecedented challenges like natural disasters and the pandemic. “God bless you all, and have a wonderful evening.”
In Smith’s closing statement, he said, “It’s been an honor to be here and to debate. I just want to say to the people of South Dakota thank you for tuning in. The most important thing you do in November is to vote, no matter who you vote for.” Smith encouraged people to exercise their right to vote. If you want a governor that builds bridges, then the choice is clear. “I’m Jamie Smith, and I’d appreciate your vote.”
Quint said, “I want to thank you guys for inviting me and bringing a third voice to this debate.” Quint said one of the benefits of having her as Governor is, “I am a young professional. My running mate is also a young professional in the state of South Dakota. Some of the legislation has catered to the older generations. One of us is from West River, one of us is from East River, and we are elated to be able to bring a voice to our generation in the political aspect of the scene.”
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