SD State Legislature Candidate Survey: David Kull

South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)
South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)(DAKOTA NEWS NOW)
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 3:40 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - David Kull is running in the Republican primary for South Dakota State House District 2. Kull faces three primary opponents; John Sjaarda, Jeffrey Lloyd Shawd, and Jake Schoenbeck.

David Kull
David Kull(David Kull)

1. Tell us about yourself?

I was born and raised in South Dakota. My wife Ginnie and I have celebrated 45 years of marriage and have two sons and two grandchildren.

In 1978, I began my law enforcement career with the Sioux Falls Police Department, and over the next 30 years, worked in almost every area of the department over the next 30 years. I retired from Sioux Falls in 2008 with the final rank of Captain and two days later began my new job as Police Chief of the Brandon Police Department extending my police career another 11 years. I retired from full-time law enforcement on April 26th, 2019 and ten days later, on May 6th, I was sworn in as a new Alderman of the Brandon City Council, where I still serve today.

One last thing of note; I count playing the bagpipes among my many hobbies and am a founding member of the Dakota District Pipes and Drums.

2. Why are you running for this office?

After the new redistricting came into effect, I was contacted by a couple of people that asked if I would be interested in running and encouraged me to enter the race. After taking some time to mull it over, I opted to pursue one of the two seats in the House for District 2. With my long career in policing, coupled with my time serving in local government, both as a Police Chief and a Council Member, I believe I would bring a valuable perspective to the legislature. I would also say that I’ve enjoyed my time in public service and, if elected, this would be a continuation of that service.

3. What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Education of our youth has been and should always be a top priority for anyone in the office. The quality of that education defines the future success of South Dakota as well as our country.

Infrastructure has been a topic of much discussion and the importance of maintaining and upgrading that infrastructure cannot be emphasized too much. Everything from roads and bridges to broadband coverage and utility grids can’t be allowed to fall into a state of neglect.

This is something that, as a member of a city council, I have been involved with on a local level and am acutely aware of the impacts of getting behind on needed maintenance, repair, and replacement.

A third priority would be to make sure our public safety needs, including Police, Fire, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), as well as Corrections are all addressed to the best of the ability of the legislature. The biggest challenge in these career fields is attracting the best

qualified candidates to ensure that our communities are served by professional and dedicated public servants.

4. What relevant experience would you bring to the office?

As stated earlier, I have been involved in public service continuously since 1978 when I started my policing career. In addition to enforcing the municipal and state laws, I’ve also had extensive experience with budget preparation and management, policy development and implementation, and personal management including recruitment, hiring, employee evaluations, etc.

In my current capacity as a member of the Brandon City Council, it’s my responsibility to represent the people of both my Ward as well as the entire city. Though it’s on a different scale, we are responsible for working with staff on ordinance development and/or revisions, building reasonable budgets, and managing the revenues of the city in a prudent fashion.

Lastly, I’m a citizen and taxpayer of the community and over the years have made the effort to pay attention to what’s going on around us, watched and read the news to stay abreast of issues on a local, state, national and international level and I’m always willing to listen to all sides of an issue before making a final decision.

5. Do you support tax relief for South Dakotans? If so, what type and how would you make it happen?

There has been recent talk from some legislative candidates about tax relief, much of it centered around property taxes. As a member of a city council, this does give me some concern. Property taxes are an essential part of the revenue received by counties, municipalities, and school districts. A reduction of this funding could translate into a reduction of projects and services governments are expected to deliver to their communities.

We have to acknowledge that South Dakota does reportedly have one of the lowest task burdens in the country. According to CNN Money, we rank 47th in the nation, and an organization called the Tax Foundation places us at 44th. Any discussion related to tax reduction needs to be approached with a high degree of caution and given a great amount of consideration to the downstream impacts that could have. I’m open to the discussion, but skeptical of any short or long-term benefits.

6. Housing availability has become an issue for many South Dakotans. How would you seek to make housing more affordable?

I realize that this is a statewide issue and I’m not fully versed in the challenges in other parts of the state, but I am aware of the concern in the Sioux Falls Metro area with the growing need for more potential employees to move to the area.

As I drive around our area, I’m amazed at the number of buildings that’s been taking place in the Sioux Falls Metro area. In the City of Brandon, ground prep is taking place on our west side that will eventually have an estimated 300-unit apartment complex as part of the development. Drive down Veterans Parkway near the Dawley Farm commercial area, and one sees additional large complexes going up, along with single-family homes and duplexes. What I don’t have numbers on is how affordable these places are as I understand that most are market rates rather than income-based.

My understanding is that this is a continuing work in progress at the state level and we’ll have to see what impacts current efforts have in order to make any judgments on what future decisions need to be made.

7. South Dakota correctional facilities have been dealing with a number of issues, most prominent among them overcrowding and staffing shortages. What would you do to help combat these issues?

Short term; solutions for staffing recruitment and retention need to be addressed to reduce the amount of turnover that’s currently taking place. I believe much of that will center around pay and benefits issues. There is work underway at the DOC to address some of those issues, but the challenge is that both public and private entities are competing for the same potential employees in an area that has an extremely low unemployment rate. Supply and demand are currently driving up wages and benefits as many employers are in a sort of bidding war to try to fill the need for employees.

Long term, it’s my information that the issue of facilities is being studied with the view that current facilities need to be upgraded and/or replaced. Building new prisons is a harder sell for the public to get behind, but they are a necessary component of the entire criminal justice system.

It would be great to see the number of inmates decrease from the present numbers. Unfortunately, I am not overly optimistic that’s going to happen and that numbers are going to slowly increase. From my time in law enforcement, I can attest that many of our crime issues are a direct or indirect result of drug and alcohol addiction. Treatment programs can help in some cases and hopefully aid in some decrease in the overcrowding issues. That said, we are probably at a point where the capacity of the prisons needs to also increase to protect our law-abiding citizens.

8. What steps should the legislature take to entice young people to remain in the state?

Over the course of my life, I’ve seen many of my friends and some family spread their wings and seek opportunities in other places around the country. And we’ve seen other young people move to South Dakota from other states for the same reasons. Good jobs can keep young people in the state, lure some that have left-back, and attract others from out-of-state who are looking for a better place to live and raise a family. What legislature contributes to this is maintaining a good business environment.

9. Do you support any changes to the way elections are run in South Dakota?

Covid 19 threw a monkey wrench into the election process around the country, much more in other states than ours. Now that we’re on the backside of that, I believe things will return to normal. Not a ‘new normal’, simply normal. That said, I’ve generally been satisfied with how elections are run in South Dakota.

10. A U.S. Supreme Court decision is looming on a landmark abortion case that could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. Governor Kristi Noem has indicated she would like to ban abortion outright, and a “trigger law” already on the books would so, with only an exception in place when the mother’s life is at risk. Do you support banning abortion to this extent? If not, what exceptions would you like to see made?

In our house, there is a picture of a baby with the caption ‘I do not deserve to die for the crime of my father. I am not an ‘exception’. In this world, there are some exceptional people that were the result of horrendous crimes committed against their mothers. In my faith, life begins at conception and is deserving of all that life has to offer.

11. What is your stance on legalized, recreational marijuana in South Dakota?

I do not see myself personally voting for recreational marijuana. Just don’t see the need for it in our society. That said, I’m a realist and concede that at some point in the not-so-distant future, it will be legalized and we will adapt. The legislature will be tasked with putting the proper laws and regulations in place to accommodate the legalization and determine an appropriate tax rate for the consumer to pay. And life will go on.

What I will also predict is that sometime in the more distant future, governments will launch campaigns against ‘Big Marijuana’ just like we see against ‘Big Tobacco.’ By that time, some of those same governments will have become addicted to the tax revenues cannabis sales bring to the coffers. Could be interesting to watch.

State legislative candidates in contested districts this primary season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. Candidates were asked to keep their responses limited to roughly 4-5 sentences for each question. 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.”

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