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Standout Watertown Debater Ries Declares for District 5 House

…Other Potential House Runners Include Yankton Dem, Brookings Indy, Belle Fourche Lib!

The first (and, as of this weekend, only!) Democrat to file a petition to run for Legislature is Brett Ries of Watertown. The very recent All-American Watertown HS debater filed his petition for District 5 House on January 8. Now a poli-sci student at USD, Ries promises to bring the critical-thinking skills he learned in debate to Pierre:

Brett Ries, Democrat for District 5 House
Brett Ries, Democrat for District 5 House

Through his experiences, Brett has learned how to research, argue, and listen to all sides of an issue, skills he wants to bring with him to the legislature in Pierre. That’s what he thinks we need in Pierre: a researcher, a fighter, and a listener. He believes our government officials need to be held to a higher standard, and he is willing to be the one to hold them accountable.

“I also want to send a message to our youth in South Dakota that you can succeed as a young person in this state,” Ries emphasized. “I hope to motivate them to stay in South Dakota to accomplish their goals. More importantly, I want to create change for the people. My main goals are concerned with criminal justice, education, and government accountability. I look forward to meeting many great people throughout this campaign, and I am prepared to be your voice in Pierre for District 5 in the House of Representatives” [Brett Ries for District 5 House, press release, 2018.01.20].

Just 20 years old, Ries would be the second-youngest person ever elected to the South Dakota Legislature; young Republican pup Drew Dennert was just a couple weeks younger when he won a District 3 House seat in 2016.

District 5 covers the city of Watertown. Both District 5 House seats are held by first-term Republicans, Hugh Bartels and Nancy York. Neither has filed yet to run in 2018.

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Terry Crandall
Terry Crandall

Yankton Democrats may have a House contender of their own in the works. No one has filed petitions yet in District 18, which covers all of Yankton County, but Yankton school board VP Terry Crandall filed a statement of organization December 27 for “Crandall for Change,” a campaign committee for District 18 House. Crandall is a former school counselor and Yankton city commissioner and mayor. District 18’s current House members are Republicans Mike Stevens and Jean Hunhoff, both of whom are eligible to seek reëlection.

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Brookings could have an independent House candidate. Cory Ann Ellis organized a legislative committee on January 8 to campaign for District 7 House, which covers the city of Brookings. Ellis’s Facebook campaign page says she has petitions in handHer District 7 campaign site is counting down the days (ten, as of my viewing while writing this post) to an official launch. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Spencer Hawley is termed out of the House this year; incumbent Republican Tim Reed is in his rookie term. Republican Senator Larry Tidemann is also termed out, creating the possibility that he and Hawley could try to switch places.

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Belle Fouche might have a Libertarian in the chute. Tattoo artist Jason Hill organized a committee this week to run for House in single-seat District 28B. That’s the less-Indian half of District 28, covering Perkins, Harding, and the northern half of Butte County. Second-termer Sam Marty currently represents 28B.


  1. Curt 2018-01-22

    I won’t be able to vote for him, but it’s exciting news nonetheless.

  2. leslie 2018-01-24

    whaaaat? no votech degree for Brett, huh? yah never know! :)

    2018 is gonna be a great election year. Sutton, Governor; Bjorkman, US Representative!!

    Brett will join the formidable Democratic Cowboy and Indian legislators. About time!

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