This is one of the more disappointing blog posts I’ve written. Disappointing for me and our state, because South Dakota is losing one of its finest legislators and public servants (for the time being anyway). Senator Todd Schlekeway has a great reputation across all political camps in our state and provides a true example of the kind of character and integrity our legislature is fortunate to have.
Schlekeway sent out this press release:
For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2012
Schlekeway Named Executive Director of National Trade Association
(Sioux Falls, SD) Sioux Falls resident and District 11 State Senator Todd Schlekeway has been named Executive Director of The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), a non-profit trade association providing a unified voice for tower erection, maintenance and service companies.
NATE (www.natehome.com) is headquartered in Watertown, South Dakota and its growing membership consists of over 560 companies located throughout the United States, Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
?I am very excited about this exciting professional opportunity to work for a dynamic national association like NATE that is headquartered in my home state,? Schlekeway said. ?NATE has an outstanding leadership structure in place led by its Board of Directors. I also look forward to working with NATE?s dedicated and talented staff to continue to advance the mission of the association,? Schlekeway added.
?The tower construction and maintenance industry is the backbone of our modern day communications and NATE member companies are responsible for building and maintaining telecommunications and broadcast towers around the globe,? Schlekeway stated. ?Our members will continue to be vital to the expansion of broadband wireless and 4G communications moving forward. As an association, we will continue to work relentlessly to create a culture of safety in this industry through effective safety training and by formulating and adhering to uniform standards of safety,?
Schlekeway also stated that due to his new position as Executive Director of NATE, he will not be seeking re-election to the State Senate in November. ?Serving the people of District 11 and the city of Sioux Falls in the state legislature the last four years has been an incredible honor and experience. I have enjoyed working with my constituents, legislative colleagues and state government employees during the last four years. ?I have loved every minute of it.?
Schlekeway indicated that the Minnehaha County Republican Party has a process in place that will name a GOP candidate to replace him on the ballot in November.
Your guess is as good as mine as to whom the Minnehaha County Republican party will choose to fill Schlekeway’s vacant seat. With Lora Hubbel serving as vice chair of the Minnehaha county party, one might wonder whether she will find a way to move back into her old district to get this appointment. Considering she just lost to Deb Peters in a senate primary of her own, the timing couldn’t be better.
I believe that Tammy Weis is still serving as Committeewoman, so there could easily be a push behind the scenes to get Hubbel on the ballot.
One might also wonder if Governor Daugaard would have a preference in the selection process.
Another thought is Jim Stalzer or Christine Erickson. Both had a good showing in the primary last week to represent district 11 in the house. Stalzer is more of the Tea Party mindset, but a very reasonable fellow. I do not know Erickson, but if the decision was to be between these two, my suspicions would be that Erickson would be the preference considering she bested Stalzer in the vote count.
Clearly there are other possibilities in the discussion, perhaps a former legislator. Mark Willadsen likely wouldn’t be the ideal choice considering he has a history of not being the most reliable vote getter.
Either way it will be hard to replace the thoughtful and steady leadership Schlekeway offered in Pierre.
My main concern is that the process to replace Schlekeway will become a microcosm of what is transpiring across this state in GOP circles. It could easily become a contentious and divisive process amongt the rank and file of the active GOP members of our community. As most of us know, it doesn’t take much to divide a county party. The number one priority for the executive board must be to select a nominee who can retain this senate seat in the fall.
We wish Senator Schlekway and his family the very best in the future!
(The Argus has a story about it also)