Both candidates vying for South Dakota’s top cop position are pointing to their type of experience as reasons they should be the next Attorney General.
The experience factor in the Attorney General race has echoed throughout both campaigns, and was present on Thursday night’s candidate forum on SDPB TV.
Republican candidate Jason Ravnborg is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserves. He’s a partner with a law firm in Yankton and is licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts. He’s also a deputy states attorney for Union County in South Dakota.
Ravnsborg says he brings leadership to the office. He says that leadership comes from being a battalion commander where he overseas 600 people in four different states. He says he didn’t enter the Attorney General’s race the normal way.
“I didn’t go kiss the rings of big money or the prosecutor class of the state,” Ravnsborg says. “I went out and I earned the support of the people and brought that forward. And I built my platform based on what they add. I didn’t start off by saying ‘Hey, I want to do this, this is my direction and I’m going to dictate down all the answers.’ I’ve never said that I have all the answers.”
Ravnsborg says he’s endorsed by a majority of sheriff’s in the state, as well as states attorneys in thirty different counties.
His opponent, Democrat Randy Seiler was recently endorsed by two former attorneys general. Seiler says he brings experience his opponent doesn’t have…
“I was with the US Attorney’s office for 22 years,” Seiler says. “I spent 14 years as a violent crime prosecutor, five years as chief deputy and then the last three years as US Attorney. I served under nine US Attorneys and four presidents. As US Attorney I basically ran a law firm that was comparable to the Attorney General’s office.”
Seiler says he’s been lead counsel on over 600 cases, as well as tried 75 jury trials. When Seiler retired from the US Attorney’s office, he served as an interim state’s attorney for Hughes County where he lives.
The Republican candidate for attorney general in South Dakota says he would push for the state to build a facility to house those in the criminal justice system addicted to methamphetamine.
Ravnsborg says the state needs a meth prison in either the central or western part of South Dakota.
“It’s basically a hard name for a meth treatment facility,” Ravnsborg says. “But we would also have a mental illness wing on that facility. So that, sometimes when you’re working with your meth addictions and such, you develop a mental illness, sadly. We would have those facilities on site.”
Ravnsborg is calling for an end to presumptive probation in the state, which he says ties the hands of law enforcement.
Ravnsborg’s opponent, Democrat Randy Seiler, says a meth treatment facility would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Seiler says that money should be used for more drug treatment in local communities, instead.
He says the state cannot cure meth addition by placing offenders in prison.
Seiler says arrests have increased over the last seven years, partly fueled by the opioid and meth epidemics in the state.
Seiler says he wants a more community based approach to recovery.
“You cannot cure addition by incarceration,” Seiler says. “Everything I’ve read, all of the experts agree, that you are not curing addiction by putting individuals in jail. There has to be treatment centers, recovery centers, we have to have re-entry programs when individuals get out of prison.”