Steve Hickey’s leaving the Legislature and coming to Aberdeen? Whoo-hoo! Howdy, neighbor!
Oops—the other Aberdeen. Scotland, says Kevin Woster:
One of the things I like best about Steve Hickey is the surprises.
He’s full of them.
The latest he shared with me over the weekend, during a Facebook and phone conversation about an unrelated political issue: He’ll be resigning his seat in the South Dakota House of Representative, giving up his senior pastor role at the Church of the Gate in Sioux Falls and going back to school.
In Scotland. For four years. To get a Ph.D in Christian ethics in the modern world, with emphasis on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the surveillance state [Kevin Woster, “Bonhoeffer Bound: Hickey to Leave Legislature for Christian Ethics Study in Scotland,” Politics in KELOLand, 2015.07.07].
Hickey thus denies me the pleasure of continuing to call him “Rep. Rev.” Alas!
Hickey has been on the Bonhoeffer trail for sometime. Bonhoeffer is definitely worth studying: he provides an instructive example of Christian response to evil, uniting deep theology with practical action and sacrifice. Even as a family-values Republican, Hickey has been a minor thorn in the side of the South Dakota Republican Party with his stands against payday lenders, closed meetings, and the death penalty. When he comes back after four years immersed in Bonhoeffer’s prophetic resistance to one-party rule, he may rattle the SDGOP cage even more.
Speaking of payday lending, Hickey tells Woster he will continue to promote the initiative to cap interest rates and check predatory lenders in South Dakota. Hickey gets it: good organizers can connect with and mobilize supporters from anywhere with Wi-Fi, be it Aberdeen, South Dakota, or Aberdeen, Scotland.
Bob Mercer leads his blog post on Hickey’s departure by dangling the coincidence of recent and unresolved questions about his 2012 nominating petitions, his stiff 2014 criticism of now-convicted felon Annette Bosworth for committing petition fraud, and his unexpected resignation. Hickey tells Woster the petition issue has nothing to do with this life change:
Hickey himself more recently came under scrutiny because of irregularities in some of his candidate petitions. Hickey contends any mistakes were honest oversights. The case is still open, although Hickey contends “there’s really nothing there.” He said he is concerned that some might wonder about the timing of his move to Scotland.
“My concern is that people draw a connection between the complaint against my petition and what I’m doing here,” Hickey says. “This process on the Ph.D work has been in the works for more than a year. Anybody who knows anything about a Ph.D program like this knows that” [Woster, 2015.07.07].
Hickey’s story here is plausible: he’s changing location and job, but not core interests. He has a spectacular opportunity to deeply study one of the greatest Christian pastors and theologians of the twentieth century. Plus, Hickey’s going to study a good Lutheran, and that’s bound knock Hickey’s theology into better shape.
In four years, I’ll have to call Steve Rev. Doc. I wish him well on his studies… and I look forward to his blogging his Bonhoeffer knowledge from Scotland!
This is the third legislative vacancy Governor Dennis Daugaard has gotten to fill this year, following his appointments of Steve Fiegen to Tim Rave’s District 25 Senate seat and William Shorma to Dan Lederman’s District 16 Senate seat. Check my head count, but these two appointees and Hickey’s replacement will join five other sitting Daugaard appointees in the Legislature: Rep. David Anderson (R-16/Hudson), Rep. Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids), Sen. R. Blake Curd (R-12/Sioux Falls), Sen. Alan Solano (R-32/Rapid City), and Rep. Mark Willadsen (R-11/Sioux Falls). Add Rounds appointees Rep. Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City), Rep. Kristin Conzet (R-32/Rapid City), and the 2016 Session will open with nearly 10% of our legislators owing their presence in Pierre to gubernatorial appointment.