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Seiler Willing to Lead SDDP thru 2020 Election, But Only with His Team

Randy Seiler is willing to run the South Dakota Democratic Party, for now, and he has a team lined up to help.

In the last couple weeks, interim chairman Seiler has been updating State Central Committee members on the progress he and the working groups empaneled at the October 26 meeting toward putting the Democratic house in order.

In a November 4 e-mail to SDDP State Central Committee members, Seiler succumbed to the urgings of many party members and expressed his willingness to lead the party through the 2020 election:

It has been suggested by many that for continuity purposes, I continue as Chair through the 2020 elections. After some soul-searching and against my wife’s advice, I am willing with the blessing/consent of the SCC to stay on as Chair through the 2020 elections and on into early 2021, when we will revisit this matter. This is contingent upon an engaged, committed Vice Chair and Treasurer(s). I have some feelers out. If, however, there are others that remain interested I would encourage you to throw your hat into the ring. I only want was is best for the party [Randy Seiler, e-mail to SDDP State Central Committee, 2019.11.04].

Seiler has tapped Minnehaha County Dems chair Nikki Gronli to run for vice-chair. In response to the resignation of relatively new party treasurer Michael Hanson (who said the righting the financial ship will require more work than he can put in on nights and weekends), Seiler recruited Marcia Bunger and Larry Olsen to serve as co-treasurers right now. Seiler says he will serve as chair into 2021 only if the party elects this team.

Seiler may need to ask for an amendment to the SDDP constitution to get official co-treasurers: Article 6 refers to each state party officer in the singular, APA be damned, the difference between singular and plural matters. The State Central Committee can amend the SDDP constitution by a 60% vote, but amendments require written notice at least 30 days prior to the meeting. Unless interim chairman Seiler slipped a note to members before last Friday proposing a “co-” insertion, installation of co-chairs would have to wait for another SCC meeting. Absent that notice, a State Central Committee majority wanting to put Team Seiler in office may have to settle for designating Bunger treasurer and Olsen secretary.

Yesterday Seiler sent SCC members these brief bios and pitches from his preferred team. However, he continues to emphasize that the door is open for anyone else who wants to take on the punishing and thankless task of digging the South Dakota Democratic Party out of its financial and electoral hole.

Note from Randy Seiler

On December 7 you will have an important choice regarding the future of the South Dakota Democratic Party. As previously indicated, I will resign as Vice Chair on December 7 and be a candidate for Chair. These are the individuals that have consented to serve with me and I am very proud and honored to be able to run with them as a team. At no time have I intended to imply that we are the only individuals that can move the Party forward. There are a host of talented Democrats out there that can do the job as well. What I can tell you is we are committed and vigilant and will do our best to guide and lead our party through the 2020 elections and into 2021. If others wish to serve I would encourage them to step-up and run.

Randy Seiler

Letter from Nikki Gronli

Dear SCC members,

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to those who don’t know me. I’m Nikki Gronli and I am running for the vice-chair position to support the efforts of chair Randy Seiler, the E-Board, and the SCC. I have put a lot of thought into this decision and I believe my experience and skills will benefit the state party and its members.

I was raised in Aurora, SD and graduated from Brookings High School. I went on to college at the University of Minnesota and obtained my bachelor of science degree in design communications. Just last year in August, I completed the mini MBA program at the University of St. Thomas through their executive education division.

Since moving back to South Dakota in 2001, I have been an active member of numerous boards, committees, and organizations: Minnehaha County Democratic Party (current chair), Minnehaha County Housing and Redevelopment Commission, Siouxland Heritage Museums, LEAD (Leaders Engaged And Determined) South Dakota, DSU Cyber Security Industry Advisory Board, DoD STARBASE, and others. Community service is a passion of mine and I believe in leaving this world better than I found it.

I’m also a graduate of Leadership South Dakota (2017) and Leadership Sioux Falls (2018). I believe strongly in continuing to learn and I enjoy the networks I’ve been able to build through these programs. I’m very lucky to have an employer that supports and allows me to participate in ongoing education.

At SDN Communications, I am the Marketing Specialist where I oversee and strategize TV, radio, print campaigns, and events for SDN. I have been in the marketing and advertising industry for almost 25 years.

My husband Brian and I live just outside of Dell Rapids, SD. He is a small business owner who makes beautiful custom cabinets and woodwork. Our four grown children and two grandkids keep our hearts full and grounded.

I chose to join Randy at this challenging time because I believe my experience, professionally and in the community will serve the party well and are a complement to Randy’s talents. I always enjoy a good challenge.

My goals are:

  • Improve communication and transparency with members and the media through traditional and digital methods.
  • Strategize and develop a campaign to improve the image of the SDDP.
  • Raise awareness of what the SDDP stands for across the state.
  • Support candidate recruitment and provide resources to strengthen campaigns.
  • Support our currently elected officials.

I look forward to talking with you all in the coming weeks leading up to the election. Please feel free to email or call.

Nikki Gronli

Letter from Marcia Bunger

Dear SCC,

I would like to introduce myself to many of you who do not know me.

My name is Marcia Bunger. After graduating from Spencer High School in McCook County I went on to graduate from Augustana with a major in Communications and a minor in Business Administration. Shortly after graduation I married my high school sweetheart (also from McCook County). We bought a farm 1 mile from where I grew up and have lived ever since. My husband and I raise corn, beans and have a cow/calf operation.

In 1987 I went to work for what was then known as ASCS and is now called the Farm Service Agency. For the first 7 years I worked as a Program Technician and the remaining 18 years as a County Executive Director. After taking early retirement I worked as an Insurance Officer (crop insurance) for approximately 4 years.

I became an active Democrat early in 2018 when I became the Chair for the McCook County Democrats and working for Randy Seiler’s campaign.

My skill set for the office of SDDP treasurer comes from 25 plus years overseeing successfully the administration of several FSA programs involving the disbursing of hundreds of thousands of tax payers’ dollars, successfully supervising employees in the day to day operations of their jobs, reporting to and being accountable to farmer elected county committees, USDA FSA State and National offices.

Thank you for your considering Larry Olsen and I to be your SDDP Treasurer Co-Chairs.

Respectfully,
Marcia Bunger

Letter from Larry Olsen

Hello fellow Democrats!
My name is Larry Olsen I have been a Dem since registering on my 18th birthday in 1974!

I grew up on a Dairy farm near Centerville in Turner County. I have been involved in farming for my entire life.

I have been married to my wife Sue for the past 45 years and we live on our Farm by Davis SD.

I have 2 daughters Angie Olsen a public school Reading Specialist Teacher for the Tea school system. Erica Lindgren a Social Worker. A son in law Mark Lindgren an IT Specialist. A grandson Elijah Lindgren elementary school student. They all live in Sioux Falls.

I also worked as a Crop Insurance Loss Adjuster and was employed by the USDA ASCS/FSA in 1983.

I began my career with ASCS/FSA in Turner County as a Field Assistant, then as a Program Technician. In 1994 I was selected to be the County Executive Director for the Campbell County Farm Service Agency at Mound City, SD. I served in that position until 1996 when I was selected as the County Executive Director for Minnehaha County FSA where I served until retiring January of 2017 after 34 years of service.

As the CED I was responsible for the delivery of the Farm Program passed by Congress.

Through the years I have been involved in several Democratic Candidate elections volunteering to help in any way I could.

I am offering my services as Co-Chair along with Marcia Bunger for the position of SDDP Treasurer. Along with Marcia, we hope to help put the State party on a responsible financial footing.

We know that we have an uphill struggle ahead of us, but believe we are up to the task with Randy and Nikki’s leadership.

Again this will not be easy and Marcia and I will need all of your help and support! There will likely be tough choices to be made in the beginning as we essentially rebuild our SDDP!

Respectfully yours,
Larry Olsen

[Randy Seiler and team, e-mail to SDDP State Central Committee members, received by Dakota Free Press 2019.11.12]

Note that Seiler’s co-treasurers bring decades of experience handling large sums of taxpayer dollars as Farm Service Agency county executive directors. That sounds like qualifications to me.

But as Seiler has said, anyone else who wants to do the job is welcome to run on December 7. They’d just better bring a full team, because Seiler won’t serve without the team he has picked.

10 Comments

  1. John Tsitrian 2019-11-13

    Good luck, Randy.

  2. Chris M. 2019-11-13

    The SDDP may also want to confirm – if it hasn’t done so already – that co-treasurers are legal in the eyes of the FEC and SD SOS and, if it’s not, figure out some sort of way to have one be the “primary treasurer” for those purposes.

  3. Jeff Barth 2019-11-13

    Randy has my support.

    There is an apropo expression, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Many understand what needs to be done in the Democratic Party but they don’t do it. Plenty of advice but nobody boiling water

    We need to register voters. Someone else really should do it.
    We need to peel potatoes. Someone else needs to get busy.

    As a young and inexperienced man I took it upon myself to bake a pie. While making the crust my friend noticed I was using white sugar. “You can’t do that you have to use brown sugar!” Recognizing that white sugar was politically incorrect I added brown sugar. Another fella came by and said, “Don’t use sugar, ever! Use honey!” So, again properly chastened, I added honey.

    White sugar, brown sugar, honey. How could it go wrong? It did not come out well and I have not attempted pie crust in 46 years.

    Give Randy’s Team space to succeed. Oh, and send cash.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-13

    Good point, Chris… and Seiler appears to be on that one. He said that, as they prepare the FEC reports, if they learn FEC requires just one name, he’ll flip a coin to see which name goes on that line.

  5. Jeff Barth 2019-11-13

    Why should the State at any level tell our Party how to organize?

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-13

    Chris does make me curious about South Dakota campaign finance law and the singular or plural status of “treasurer” and makes me wonder about my own reading of the singular treasurer provided for in the SDDP Constitution. SDCL 12-27-2 says “A political committee shall have and continually maintain a chair and a treasurer.” That statute allows one person to serve as chair and treasurer, so “a” here does not require the treasurer to be one unique person separate from the chair. But it appears we can take that language the other direction: Seiler himself had co-chairs, Lee and Jean Magnuson, for his 2018 campaign committee, and Shantel Krebs didn’t send our (non-existent) campaign finance cops after him. So having two chairs appears to satisfy statute’s requirement to maintain “a chair.” So I wonder if the same applies to treasurer: if Team Seiler wins the approval of the SDDP, when Secretary Barnett turns to Seiler and says, “Hey, do you have a treasurer?” Seiler can respond, “Heck yeah, we’ve got two!

  7. Porter Lansing 2019-11-13

    Mr. Seiler recruited Marcia Bunger and Larry Olsen to serve as co-treasurers. In business and personal affairs I always hire two non-connected accountants. Part of their jobs are to watch the other accountant. It’s only proper procedure. Can Mr. Seiler install Ms. Bunger and Mr. Olsen as “acting” co-treasurers until the Central Committee meeting, when the necessary vote can take place? Would the title “acting treasurers” satisfy the language?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-13

    What you say makes sense, Porter. If the party finances are in shambles because if insufficient oversight, then we could use two sets of strong eyes on the checkbook and the FEC reports. As Jeff Barth says, too many cooks spoil the broth, but two sharp-eyed treasurers can help the party un-cook the books.

    Seiler has indeed installed Bunger and Olsen to act in Hansen’s place. The party constitution does not appear to have any emergency clause allowing the necessary immediate replacement; it requires vacancies of state officers to be filled by vote of the State Central Committee. The SDDP constitution is silent on appointing “acting” officers. I guess if someone really wants to raise heck about Seiler’s executive action at the December 7 meeting, they can try. But I get the impression that I wouldn’t want to get on the other end of a legal battle with the former U.S. Attorney.

  9. Debbo 2019-11-14

    “I guess if someone really wants to raise heck about Seiler’s executive action at the December 7 meeting, they can try.”

    Sounds like Dan I’m-a-jacka$$ Lederman.

  10. Debbo 2019-11-14

    Full steam ahead and good fortunes to team Seiler and the SDDP.

Comments are closed.