SD Legislative candidate survey: Kirk Chaffee

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 8:02 PM MDT
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STURGIS, S.D. (KOTA) - Kirk Chaffee is a Republican running for re-election to the South Dakota State House in District 29. The district includes the communities of Sturgis, Union Center, Faith, and Blackhawk. Chaffee is on the ballot along with two other candidates, Republican Gary Cammack and Libertarian Sean Natchke.

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

My name is Kirk Chaffee. I am a life-long resident of Meade County, where I served as the Director of Equalization before retiring after 32 year in 2019.

I enjoy visiting with my fellow South Dakotans, and spending time with family and friends. I have a strong background in family business and local governmental issues. I believe in taking a practical common sense approach to problem-solving, and I find more value in facts over political drama.

2. What prompted you to run for re-election?

I am running for re-election to the District 29 House seat because I have a strong desire and opportunity to help serve the community in which I grew up. Knowing that my community is in for a lot of changes and growth in the upcoming years, I feel that it is my responsibility to help make sure that my prior knowledge in the areas of local government will help facilitate a smoother transition for the changes coming in the next four years. I want to be a part of the conversation when making changes that will shape our future, while maintaining all the wonderful things that give our area our identity. My priority is to serve the people. South Dakota is truly an amazing place to live. It is our home, and I want to do everything I can to help make this a wonderful place for all of us to live and raise our families.

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

My background in Equalization gives me an important insight into property taxes and local government. My priorities and polices come from the Meade County community in which I grew up. They tend to be conservative in nature and promote a smaller more efficient government.

My tax policy in Pierre is to limit or reduce taxes when and where appropriate. I will be working on concerns that many elderly homeowners have expressed in their fears of rising property taxes spurred on by the strong housing market in the Black Hills.

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?

I am anxious to learn more from the upcoming Governor’s budget address and the estimated $100M impact. is a function of inflation and/or can it be sustainable. I am in full support of the conservative approach to limiting taxes and would also be very supportive of focusing those efforts on property tax relief as a priority or alternative.

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?

This is a difficult subject to talk about and should be fully discussed openly with compassion and respect. I could see supporting considerations given in such medical events where the life of the mother is in danger. This exception should be clearly defined if it were to become law.

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

I would commit to legalizing marijuana in the event that it passed in November. I would also support other legislation that supports preventive measures to protect our youth. If the recreational marijuana legislation should pass, South Dakota should prepare itself for the additional costs that Adult-Use Marijuana will bring.

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

I do believe that the most important quality of any elected official is to be caring and empathetic. One has to be able to listen to his/her constituents and understand what they are trying to convey. Being an elected official demands that one be patient, compassionate and open to other ideas, while still being able to make decisions based upon core beliefs and the facts presented.

It is imperative to not only be a good listener, but to be able to tune out the rhetoric. It is also a benefit to have some applicable background and understanding of the legislative process and the subject matter. Lastly, one needs to possess the humility to admit there are some things of which you simply don’t know the answer and need more education before making a decision.

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

President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

The people of South Dakota need to how much their representatives care about them and our state. Regardless of the issue or your political leaning, you must care enough to ask the tough questions of why? That includes opinions you may not agree with or feel uncomfortable talking about. Nevertheless, you must care enough to fully explore the issues brought, ask difficult questions, seek the motives and benefits and the most difficult part, look for any unforeseen consequences.

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.