SD Legislative Candidate Survey: Brian Burge

The South Dakota State Capitol Building in Pierre at sunrise.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 12:54 PM CDT
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BERESFORD, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Brian Burge is an Independent running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 16. District 16 stretches south along I-29, and includes the communities of Beresford, Parker, and Lennox within it. Burge is one of just a few Independents running for the state legislature in 2022, and will face incumbent Republican Jim Bolin and Democrat Donn Larson in the general election.

Brian Burge is running as an Independent for the South Dakota State Senate in District 16.
Brian Burge is running as an Independent for the South Dakota State Senate in District 16.(Submitted)

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

I am a 31 year old mechanical engineer who, from my roots in agricultural South Dakota, owns two new businesses serving eastern SD. I grew up in Marion, SD where my dad’s welding shop was my playground. In high school, I learned the value of working with your hands milking cows at 4 AM and pouring concrete basements in July sunshine. Through 10 years of working up in mobile equipment manufacturing, progressing to an executive leadership position, it was time to jump out on my own in 2020. Now, I use the skills this state gave me to bring value to those around me.

2. What prompted you to run for office?

If good people do nothing, nothing good happens. Just like my time on the Marion City Council, there is immense value in having representatives who voice and weight the concerns and needs of the wide group of neighbors they represent. Laws cover all subjects and all people; the experiences this state gave me set me up to lead broadly on many areas so we can make good laws that serve the general good. In short, this is my time to give back to the state and people that made me who I am today.

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

The more I read our state constitution and the case law that has reshaped it, I see case after case where individuals who privately benefit from public resources found loopholes in the original text. Once the hole was found, year after year, individual interests leveraged and compounded that path to increase these imbalances in conflict with the original intent. In the end, as Janklow established, unless the action is prohibited by the Federal or State Constitution, the power of the Legislature is unlimited. This unlimited power can only be survived if representatives actively say “Even though we can, we should not”. I want to bring back a frequent adherence to principles that make our state a prosperous place for our neighbors to live in.

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? Is there any taxes you would cut instead, or in addition to?

I hold the constitutional view that taxation’s purpose is “to defray the estimated ordinary expenses of the state” and that “the burden of taxation may be equitable upon all property and in order that no property which is made subject to taxation shall escape”. Therefore, I do not support letting groceries escape taxation while other essential purchases bear the burden of sales taxation. I support taxing all property BUT at a percentage lower than currently used. Step 1. Follow the statue and sunset the 0.5% state sales tax from 4.5% to 4% Step 2. Review the individually strategic gaps in our tax base and then reduce the sales tax percentage further as our budgeting allows.

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?

  1. I do not have language for exceptions I want to add; I am very excited to hear the proposed exceptions language that affected parties will certainly bring forward this session, be vetted through open public comment in committee, and then process through the 6 steps of becoming law.
  2. Forces in our world have incrementally made the growth and prosperity of the family unit more difficult year by year. How many of these forces are affected by law? Only a consistent review of all laws, decisions, and principles can keep a focus on making building families successful in South Dakota.

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

If recreational marijuana passes, one will really struggle to say after two separate votes that the people are not in support of it.

I have three areas of concern with marijuana. 1. I do not want to see its sales structure to become the “pay to play” monopolistic structure we have created for alcohol in this state. If we are going to have it, let state citizens freely compete to meet the market demands.  2. I want people to enjoy their recreation as long as it does not unduly damage the prosperity of their peers. When overindulgence of any action stops enhancing a person’s life, then the expanse of that activity merits reflection of all involved. 3. Just like a frog in slowly boiling water, it is very hard to know how current substance use will promulgate its effects into the long-term future. In all of these areas, where law starts and stops can only be determined through in-depth conversations over time from all affected parties. Sounds a lot like 10 weeks in the capital building each year.

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

A willingness to merge wisdom from many people, driven by individual passions and common needs.

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

I study all my interactions with the best around me and the worst around me; from every experience, I look for ways to mitigate detrimental results to society and maximize the growth and prosperity of the general good around me.

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.