EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of two profiles of the candidates running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 18. Voting is currently underway; Election Day is Nov. 3.
NAME: Jean Hunhoff
FAMILY: Husband Dan, Children: Matt, Nick, Abbey and Paul, and 6 grandchildren
EDUCATION/OCCUPATION: BSN, MSN, MHA co-owner of Czeckers, owner Cardinal Fitness, Tabor and small farm operator
IF INCUMBENT, YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 20
ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL/ORGANIZATIONAL EXPERIENCE: served on the Yankton City Commission and Mayor of Yankton, serve on Yankton Chamber Transportation Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee and on the Advisory Board of Boys & Girls Club and Finance Committee of St Benedict Church, Legislatively serve on the Executive Committee of the National Council of State Legislatures and on the Steering Committee of the Reforming States Group
WEBSITE/FACEBOOK: Jean Hunhoff for Senate
• Why are you running?
These next two years will be pivotal for budgeting for the new norm in South Dakota. Resources will need to be prioritized and funded to adjust to changes in state government and provision of services to our citizens. Economic growth will be key to recovering losses and/or generating new revenue for all types of business sectors in South Dakota. The three top resource utilizers — Medicaid, education and state employees — will need to be assessed for sustaining operations in the new era. Workforce support will require innovation and long-term funding to support the economic drivers for this state.
• How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect your priorities in Pierre?
It is the determining factor as to how the state will operate and support all the services available to our citizens. This will be important in regards to what the existing and future needs will be to continue our great quality of life in South Dakota. We have made accommodations to this point in time in the operation of state government. We will need to evaluate those efforts for continuation and or more changes to respond to the needs.
• If elected, what are your plans regarding education in the coming sessions?
It will require an assessment of what has come into play regarding onsite education and online education. We need to assess if we continue with both options and if we do what are the resources needed to keep running both models of education. Lessons learned from the first closure of schools through the reopening phase need to be collected and reviewed by the parties involved: schools, parents, students, and the legislature. We need to focus on outcomes of the students from these different learning models and accommodate as needed to see them achieve their educational goals.
• What can be done to mitigate the state’s revenue shortfall?
Economic development is the engine that runs this state. Currently we are working with the governor to expend COVID dollars to support and sustain those businesses that have been impacted by COVID. Revenue losses are greatest in the hospitality sector which is very much an entrepreneurial business. We need to continue to develop programming and short-term assistance to support the growth in the entrepreneurial sector. In addition, we need to continue to work to produce the workforce that is needed for the economic development. This means continuing to ask higher education and technical colleges to scrutinize their programs for relevance to the job market. The legislature cannot dictate programming, but it can financially influence programming that is being request by the job market.
• Additional thoughts?
These next two years will require legislators with experience to step up to the plate and lead with knowledge about state departmental operations and their impact on the FY22 and FY23 budget requests. Building trust with legislative colleagues and using fact-based data for decision making on legislation and spending taxpayers’ dollars are a must as we respond to the new norm. My 20 years of experience and leadership positions have put me at the table when those decisions are being made. The key for getting legislation passed is respect for the legislative process and the people in the Legislature. I have worked hard to carry out that message in serving the people of District 18.