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Noem Appoints Anti-LGBT Businesswoman to District 9 House Seat

Governor-Elect Kristi Noem says she wants Sioux Falls realtors’ exec and businesswoman Rhonda Milstead of Hartford to fill the District 9 House seat Deb Peters forsook shortly after the election for better employment.

Scott Ehrisman responds favorably, saying Milstead strikes him as a “no nonsense” person with “a very independent spirit.” But on LGBT issues, Milstead sounds more like she’ll follow Noem’s right-wing lead in bigotry. Deb Peters showed real independence by standing up to bigotry and ignorance in her own party, at the cost of taking personal insult from a fellow Republican Senator, and voting against the anti-transgender potty-panic bill of 2016. Milstead supported that bill:

Rhonda Milstead, owner and manager of Falls Overlook Cafe, said she supported the bill and didn’t think the economic toll would meet the hype generated online.

“People get really boisterous on the internet and say all these things, but I don’t think it would really affect the state. I don’t think it would affect my business,” Milstead said [Dana Ferguson, “Transgender Bill’s Critics Threaten Tourism Boycott,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.02.17].

Potty-panicker-in-chief Fred Deutsch (R-4/Florence) has stated, for implausible reasons, that he won’t push the kind of anti-trans legislation this Session that Peters opposed but Noem promised to sign to rouse the right-wing hate base to her side in the 2018 election. But Noem has picked at least one replacement legislator who would flip a 2016 nay to a 2019 yea on a potty-panic bill.


  1. Mark Young 2018-12-29 10:04

    For Sioux Falls area legislators to sign on to legislation that could result in the NCAA pulling out its events, including conference events, would be economic disaster. Think of no collegiate athletics at Premier Center or Pentagon.

  2. Porter Lansing 2018-12-29 10:22

    Good to know that Falls Overlook Café should be on everyone’s Gaydar as a place to avoid.

  3. Briggs 2018-12-29 10:44

    @Porter The falls overlook cafe is owned by the city and contracted out. Rhonda is not renewing the contract to opperate it again this next year the last I heard.

  4. Porter Lansing 2018-12-29 11:09

    @Briggs … there ‘ya go. Gracias, amigo.
    As I’ve said to Happy Camper during one of his hysterical outbursts, when I sat down to Christmas dinner on Tuesday (with the family), myself and the other straights were the minority. We keep track of things like who’s pro and who’s anti LGBTQ. *We play a dice game where everyone brings two anonymous gifts at ten bucks each and the gifts are passed around during the game until they all get opened. I got a ten dollar gift certificate to Chick Fil A. It was a gag gift. As my daughter said and her wife (a chef) agreed, “They hate gays but they make a hell of a good chicken sandwich.”

  5. South DaCola 2018-12-29 11:35

    While I won’t defend Rhonda’s comments, I will say if you have ever met her (I have only a few times). She is NOT afraid to share her opinion, and not to concerned if you are offended by it. Not sure if that will change much. I would much prefer a legislator to tell me where they stand on an issue up front than to lie to my face than vote the opposite way. It will be interesting to see how Milstead conducts herself. My guess is with her former employment in real estate, she will be more concentrated on pro-business legislation just like the other 99% of Republicans in Pierre.

  6. Cheryl Anne McKiernan 2018-12-29 11:55

    If Rhonda is not the owner of The Falls Overlook Café why is she listed as such in this article?

  7. Wendy 2018-12-29 12:23

    How much did she contribute?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-29 13:41

    Good question, Chreyl. That’s how that Sioux Falls paper described her in Feb. 2016.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-29 13:41

    Stace Nelson isn’t afraid to share his opinion. Neither is Fred Deutsch. I respect them for that. But I don’t want them legislating for me.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-29 15:27

    Trivia: Noem could not have picked Rhonda’s husband Mike, a.k.a. Minnehaha County Sheriff Milstead. Article 3 Section 3 of our state constitution prohibits sheriffs from serving as legislators.

    But now I’m curious about Article 3 Section 12, which concludes, “nor shall any member of the Legislature during the term for which he shall have been elected, or within one year thereafter, be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.”

    That’s the clause that got SDSU employee Carol Pitts in trouble when she served in the Legislature in 2001. Rhonda’s contract (through her company Mikrho Management—thanks for sharing, Briggs!) is with the City of Sioux Falls, not the county, so that’s not a problem. But her husband Mike works for pay for the county; can it be argued that a spouse has an indirect interest in her husband’s employment with the county?

  11. Debbo 2018-12-29 23:35

    And to think, District 9 had a great candidate full of energy, eager to work for the people of the district. They didn’t know Toni Miller well enough to elect her in her first campaign and Noem would never appoint her because Toni is smart and can think for herself. Of course, that means she’s a Democrat. 👍😊

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-30 07:45

    Say, why didn’t Noem pick the runner-up in the District 9 election? Imagine if we established a rule that runners-up in elections are the automatic replacements for any vacancy in the Legislature. We’d get more people to run… and legislators would thinktwice before resigning for better jobs as lobbyists.

  13. South DaCola 2018-12-30 09:44

    Yes, Rhonda used to run the Overlook Cafe. The Summer of 2018 was her last year. She actually made it viable and kind of turned it around, but I can’t imagine it was a big ‘money maker’. There were a lot of limitations the city puts on the cafe. I have suggested they make it into a dinner club at night and lunch counter during the day.

    Cory, it will interesting to see if she recuses herself on legislation that impacts her husband’s office. The problem though as I mention to people is there are no ethics laws in SD, so who will hold her accountable if she does?

  14. grudznick 2018-12-30 10:10

    Mr. DaCola, I’m sure the same people will who hold the farmers accountable for voting on the agricultural levies and the teachers for voting on education funding and the bone crackers for voting on health funding and the people married to state employees for voting on salary raises and the cops for voting on cop law bills.

  15. Kal Lis 2018-12-30 10:15

    Math is not my strong suit, but it appears that Michael Clark got more votes than Toni Mitchell did.

    In this case, the runner-up shares Milstead’s views on LBGT issues and has made worse comments about the acceptability of racial discrimination.

    In an effort to be more positive at the end of the year, I’ll submit that Noem did not make the worst possible pick to replace Peters.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-30 14:15

    Granted: picking Michael Clark would have been more awful. Noem’s pick signals that Clark was too much of a liability to the GOP establishment.

  17. Debbo 2018-12-30 21:06

    Kal, that’s why I did not suggest the runner up. I know Clark is a racist, misogynist bigoted jackass. He’s been quite clear about that.

    On the other hand, Toni MILLER, (not mitchell) is a progressive, smart, energetic, welcoming candidate who would have done good things for District 9. I hope she gives those citizens another chance to vote themselves great representation.

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