South Dakota Democratic Party elects new leadership, past due debt balance current

MITCHELL, S.D. (KSFY) - The South Dakota Democratic Party held an election during their regularly scheduled State Central Committee meeting in Mitchell Saturday. Interim Chair Randy Seiler was officially elected to the office along with newly elected Vice-Chair Nikki Gronli and Treasurer Marcia Bunger. They will join four-term Secretary Lorri May to complete the elected leadership team.

Following the resignation of Chairwoman Paula Hawks and Executive Director Stacey Burnette, Seiler assumed the role as Chairman in October.

During the meeting, members of the State Central Committee were also provided the updated financial report and approved the 2020 budget and calendar.

“Today we took a big step forward and put some challenges behind us. We will now go through the work of hiring an Executive Director that can continue to support our work. I’m very proud to be part of this team. The passion of this group of people is why we are a stronger party today," Gronli said.

In October, KSFY News learned from a Federal Election Commission report showing the party had a debt of $47,000 that's built up over the years, but Seiler said over the phone Saturday night that there is a plan in place.

“Although we are still in the process of correcting past misfilings, we have a dedicated team and a third-party accounting firm working diligently to make sure we have accurate information filed. We’ve also done an assessment of our monthly income and taken steps to quickly eliminate the past debt that might have held us back. I couldn’t be prouder of the work of many Democratic Party members from across the state," Seiler said.

The party has paid off all previously existing obligations. Part of the party's debt reduction strategy was to get current. The South Dakota Democratic party borrowed money from a bank to get the account to a zero balance with a payment plan over three years.

“Going forward, we’ll work with our statewide leaders to put in place financial constraints that will prevent something like this from happening again. It’s critical to have our third-party accounting partner to oversee the accuracy of our filings. We take this very seriously,” Bunger said.

Seiler says they are going to be positive going forward. He wants to be an advocate for democrats across South Dakota.

"Democracy works best when there's a vibrant two-party system where the people of South Dakota have choices and that we're going to work hard to ensure that the people of South Dakota have valid and appropriate choices when they go to the ballot box," Seiler said.