SD Legislative Candidate Survey: Bret Swanson

The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre at sunrise.
The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre at sunrise.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 10:52 AM MDT
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HOT SPRINGS, S.D. - Bret Swanson is a Democrat running for the South Dakota House in District 30. District 30 includes the cities of Custer and Hot Springs within its boundaries. Swanson faces two Republican opponents in the general election; incumbent Trish Ladner and Dennis Krull.

Bret Swanson is running as Democrat for the South Dakota State House in District 30.
Bret Swanson is running as Democrat for the South Dakota State House in District 30.(Submitted)

1. Who are you? Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less.

I am a third-generation South Dakotan. My paternal grandfather, Swanee, moved to Rapid City from Sweden in 1902.

A life-long educator, I taught in Rapid City public schools before getting my master’s degree from the University of South Dakota. This led to opportunities at various colleges and universities, including two stints overseas, one in Cairo, Egypt; the other in Saudi Arabia.

I was elected to the Rapid City Area School Board in 2008; and was on the board of the Humane Society of the Black Hills.

My wife and I have four children and eleven grandchildren.

2. What prompted you to run for office?

The issue that has nagged me the most—that prompted me to write many letters to the editor—was the decision by the governor to reverse the will of the people on legalization of recreational marijuana.

3. What public policies are you passionate about? What would your policy priorities be in Pierre?

Besides the legalization of recreational marijuana, I would like to help working people. We need a higher minimum wage and we need to subsidize childcare, giving working mothers a chance to earn more and have a career.

4. Cutting the grocery tax has become central to this election cycle. Do you think that the legislature should cut the grocery tax next legislative session? Are there any taxes you would cut instead, or in addition to?

This is such an election-time gimmick. Most Democrats want to reduce or eliminate the grocery tax. We need a more progressive tax structure, reducing taxes for people on fixed incomes and lower wage earners, increasing taxes on the wealthy. If I could, I’d bring back the inheritance tax tomorrow.

5. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier in the year. South Dakota currently has a law that prevents abortion almost completely outright. Are there any exceptions you would like to see the legislature enact? What other laws would you like to see passed to support mothers and families?

The legislature should codify the protection of reproductive rights. Subsidize childcare.

6. Recreational marijuana is on the ballot in November. If it passes, would you commit to legalizing it?

Legalize it, control it, profit from it.

7. What is the most important quality for an elected official to possess?


8. Who do you take inspiration from, and why?

Don’t get asked this question often. My wife, Jackie. She’s kind, generous, and creative. Muhamad Ali. I don’t even like boxing. He risked everything for what he believed in. Bob Dylan. Bob has always followed his own path.

State legislative candidates in contested districts this election season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. With the exception of a quick spelling and grammar check, answers were not edited by the poster. Those who responded to the survey questions had their results posted.