Bennett County gets an exciting primary this year. Four candidates want to be Bennett County’s next state’s attorney, two Republicans and two Democrats. However, two of those candidates, including the incumbent, may not be eligible for the job.
The Secretary of State lists the following four candidates for Bennett County state’s attorney:
- Republican incumbent Kenneth E. Orrock
- Republican Sarah Harris
- Democrat Britt T. Long
- Democrat Shiloh MacNally
Harris and Long both gave the Secretary of State addresses in Martin, the Bennett County seat. Harris and Long both appear to be registered to vote in Bennett County.
Orrock and MacNally both gave the Secretary of State Rapid City addresses. Orrock is registered to vote in Pennington County. MacNally appears to be registered to vote under the name Shiloh Marie Buffington in Pennington County.
South Dakota law evidently requires state’s attorneys to live in the counties they represent, except in the 30 counties with fewer than 5,000 residents. In 2004, Lee Schoenbeck brought us SB 108, which became SDCL 7-16-31, which allows those small counties to have nonresident state’s attorneys from contiguous counties.
Lee said contiguous:
Pennington County and Bennett County are not contiguous.
I probably shouldn’t get into an argument with two Rapid City lawyers. Kenneth Orrock was appointed to fill the Bennett County state’s attorney post and won reëlection to it unopposed in 2012. There thus must be some logical explanation for his eligibility to serve.
But statute seems pretty clear. On face, Long and Harris are eligible for the job. Unless they submitted the wrong address information to the Secretary of State or plan to move after the election PDQ, Orrock and MacNally are not.