He’s the newest legislator in Pierre, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to speak with State Representative Wayne Steinhauer, who was recently appointed to the seat that was once held by State Representative Steve Hickey. According to a release from the Governor’s office:
Steinhauer is the outgoing chairman of the Minnehaha County Planning Commission, on which he has served for 14 years. He retired last year as chief operations officer of Amesbury, after a 30 year career in business. He also owns and operates the Best Western Hotel in Murdo.
“I am extremely honored to be appointed to the South Dakota House of Representatives,” said Steinhauer. “I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to represent District 9 and to work in Pierre with other South Dakota leaders for the benefit of all.”
Steinhauer has been active in many community organizations, including Rotary International, Downtown Sioux Falls, Sioux Empire United Way and Sioux Falls Tomorrow. He is also a member of the Murdo Chamber of Commerce.
Steinhauer and his wife of 40 years, Cindy, have two children and nine grandchildren. They are members of St. George Church in Hartford.
And with that, we have 5 Questions with State Representative Wayne Steinhauer:
1. Can you give us a brief rundown of what in your background you believe has prepared you best for serving in the state legislature?
I have a varied background in business and civic activities that will help me understand the complexities of the issues facing the state. After 14 years on the Minnehaha County Planning Commission I have grown in my appreciation for the give and take that can occur between an individual’s needs and those of the community plus the role government can play. Previously I spent a dozen years on the Sioux Falls Planning Commission which facilitated my involvement in tax increment financing, Main Street Sioux Falls (now Down Town Sioux Falls), RISE, the river greenway, bicycle plans, ordinance changes and the like. My prior work with the Sioux Empire United Way helps my awareness of the social issues we face and the great organizations we have. I have been a senior executive in an international manufacturing firm but I also own a small Best Western Motel in Murdo SD. So I have a unique view of the issues facing both large and small business. Additionally, owning a motel in Murdo increases my awareness of the issues faced by a small community dependent on our two biggest state industries; Agriculture and Tourism.
2. Your appointment to the office comes at about the same time that the Education Blue Ribbon task force made its report to the Governor. Are you finding people trying to lobby you one way or the other on how to improve teacher salaries in the state, or perhaps, not to raise taxes?
Not so much yet, but I am reaching out to leaders in this area to learn all that I can. Within days of my appointment I met with the superintendents of both Tri-Valley and West Central School districts to learn more about the issues they are facing and initial thoughts on the task force report.
3. A lot of times, people have an opinion of Republican Legislators, that they can check off a list of where they stand on certain issues, and anticipate how they’ll vote. Are there any issues where you might stand apart from a majority, or that people might be surprised to learn?
That is an interesting question. Even after checking with my wife, Cindy, I would have to say that I am very aligned with the stereotypical concept of a Republican. That said, I would like to think that I am very open to listening to both sides of an issue and looking for creative solutions that might not always be mainstream.
4. Are there any specific issues or areas that you anticipate focusing your energies on during the upcoming legislative session? What committees are you hoping to serve on?
Clearly there are several significant issues that will take considerable focus; teacher pay, and Medicaid expansion for example. Speaker Wink has informed me that I will be on the Transportation and Commerce & Energy standing committees. I also am very interested in Local Government issues and believe my background may be of benefit in this area.
5. In about a month, you’ll be starting out your 2016 political campaign about the same time you’ll travel to Pierre for your first session. How are you preparing your first race as a Republican candidate for the state house?
Most important to me at this time is preparing to do a good job during the upcoming session. I think I must first prove that I am a capable legislator and then later focus on a campaign. That said, I believe that by reaching out to those in my district to get their opinions on issues will serve me well in a future campaign.