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Meet the District 13 primary candidates

todayMay 29, 2024 3

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Republican primary is less than a week away and District 13 residents will take to the polls to vote for two Republican candidates to represent them on the November ballot. 

The candidates include incumbent Tony Venhuiezen, Brad Jankord, John Hughes and Penny BayBridge. The primary election is Tuesday, June 4.

District 13 is located mostly in southeastern Sioux Falls from Western Avenue on the west end, 57th Avenue on the north and Lincoln County to the south.

Here’s a look at the District 13 candidates for the June primary:

Tony Venhuizen

Venhuizen is District 13’s incumbent representative seeking a second term. Last year, he served as the vice chair for the House Appropriations Committee.

“A lot of my time is spent on crafting the state budget, making sure we keep spending under control, balance the budget, keep taxes low; that’s a major priority for me,” he said. 

Venhuizen sponsored a constitutional amendment that would require the state to consider a work requirement for the Medicaid expansion program. Constitutional Amendment F will be on the ballot in November.

“South Dakota has work requirements and other social programs like food stamps, welfare programs, but I think we should be able to consider that for Medicaid expansion as well,” he said. “That’s what my bill would do.”

During the last legislative session, Venhuizen was the prime sponsor to three bills that Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law. House Bill 1055 increased the dollar amount of South Dakota opportunity scholarships, HB 1056 modified term limits for Board of Technical Education members and HB 1112 modified provisions for a statewide runoff election.

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Venhuizen’s priorities this term are growing the state’s economy, improving schools, tech colleges and universities and preserving the South Dakota way of life. He said he is pro-life, pro second Amendment and pro family friendly policies. 

“When I ran the first time, I said that I would advocate for conservative policies and that I had the ability to get things done. I think I’ve shown that that was true,” he said. “I’ve shown I know how to pass legislation. I’m an advocate for strong education, for low taxes, and a balanced budget. I’m just showing that I have the skills and the knowledge to be an effective member of the legislature.”

Brad Jankord

Jankord is currently VP of Lending for the South Dakota Development Corporation and has been involved in economic development for years. 

This experience has allowed him to collaborate with different organizations, which will be helpful in the legislature, he said. 

“The most important thing is knowing that you need to collaborate,” Jankord said. “I think there’s a lot of people running for office that think they’re just gonna fix whatever issue there is, but if you don’t have the ability to collaborate with other legislators, you’re certain that you can bring a bill, but you’re just not gonna get one passed.”

Jankord said his priorities this term include helping small businesses and lowering property taxes. 

“Property taxes have been the overarching theme and I’ve already started working with Senator Kolbeck to figure out different ways that we can look at those questions and that’ll be another major focal point for me,” he said. 

Balancing the state’s budget will be another important topic for the next legislative session, Jankord said. He also noted that ballot questions on human consumption and marijuana taxes could “drastically” change how the session will look in 2025, he said. 

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“If those ballot measures get passed, then the legislature is gonna have to look at different options,” Jankord said. “I look at some of this from a business perspective, if a certain ballot measure passes and we decrease our revenues, we’re gonna have to figure out how to make up those revenues and or cut expenses.”

“I think that’s what the people of District 13 want,” Jankord said. “They don’t want someone that just brings a bunch of bills that don’t have support, they want actual solutions and that’s what I’ll focus on is actually working on bills and legislation that we can get passed that can help our constituents.”

John Hughes

Hughes has been practicing law in Sioux Falls for 40 years, but after he saw how rising property taxes were affecting people in District 13, he decided to run for office.

“Property tax has been probably my number one economic well-being issue for people,” Hughes said. “In going door-to-door to hundreds of constituents, the escalating property taxes are having a tremendously negative impact on our seniors, our families with school age children and young people that want to pursue the American dream of homeownership.”

Hughes recently hit 2,000 door-to-door interactions with constituents. He said his 41 years as a lawyer has helped him with interacting with people, listening to their concerns and coming up with solutions. 

“It’s a real natural part of my skill set and my desire is to seek people out and find out how they’re living, what’s on their mind, what problems need to be addressed,” he said. “It’s an old worn out phrase- grassroots- but it’s absolutely how run our campaign and it’s how I would approach being a legislator.”

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Along with property taxes, Hughes said helping promote small businesses, support families and create opportunities for young adults is another priority of his. 

“We have to help ourselves, we have to help our neighbors, we need the kind of economic development that is going to resonate on main street throughout South Dakota,” Hughes said. “That’s what I’m gonna focus on. I’m talking about real wage growth and real economic opportunity because we’re not seeing that happening in South Dakota to the extent it needs to happen.”

KELOLAND News reached out to Penny BayBridge, but did not hear back by the time of publishing.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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