The November 6 general election results are in and Jason Ravnsborg is the new South Dakota Attorney General.
Republican Ravnsborg defeated Democrat Randy Seiler for the position. Since 1889, only three SD Attorney Generals have not been Republicans. Democrats held the office in 1937-1939, 1959-1961, and 1973-1975. In the meantime, the term of office is has been changed to four years.
When results were tabulated from the 698 precincts in South Dakota, of the 544,282 registered SD voters, 341,546 actually cast ballots. This is a 62.75 percent voter turnout.
Voters do not have to fill in an oval for every single race or item on the ballot. The actual number of voters who helped decide the Attorney General’s race totaled 324,575. Of these, 179,049 voted for Ravnsborg, and 145,526 voted for Seiler. This gave Ravnsborg 55 percent of the votes cast for Attorney General, and Seiler received 45 percent.
“There was a lot of nervousness during election day, but we had a strong campaign,” Ravnsborg said. “Now, I am hitting the ground running. We are getting ready to govern. I am meeting with the current Attorney General’s Office this week, the Sheriffs Association next week. Will sit down with Kristi Noem, discuss input for appointment positions. Am working of the budget, which Jackley has worked on significantly.”
The SD Attorney General’s Office’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is just over $26,427,600. This money comes from three sources; the state’s general fund - $11,554,558, federal government funds - 26,427,609, and a combination of other funds - 10,242,391. The 2017 budget was just over $24,847,000, and the 2016 budget was almost $23,525,000.
“All this during the transition, along with moving to Pierre,” Ravnsborg said.
“There’s a short transition period, especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas in there, then legislature starts,” Ravnsborg said. “I do feel that I have some good relationships with some of the legislators, and with members of the current Attorney General’s Office. I actually went to law school with some of them, and have done work with others. Those relationships will be very beneficial. We will take a look at personnel; obviously we have a few openings”
The office’s staffing includes the equivalent of 189 full-time employees.
“I have received calls from Attorney Generals from other states, especially bordering states. There are some common issues we can work on. I will hold accountable those who break the law. We will have newsletters from the Attorney General’s Office, and put more information out, for people to know and for transparency. Keep watching,” said Ravnsborg.”
“I am proud of the race that we ran,” Seiler said. “Proud that over 97 percent of the money we raised came from South Dakotans, hardworking people like you and me. I believe in the Democratic party there is an energy, a commitment, that has been dormant for too long. A one-party dominance is not good for our state. I want to continue to be involved and to serve.” Seiler added, “I acknowledge Ravnsborg’s commitment and sacrifice. As I told Jason the night of the election, we are better, safer and stronger when we come together.”
Ravnsborg will take over the SD Attorney General’s position from outgoing Marty Jackley. Jackley was prevented by term limits from seeking a third consecutive term. Currently, the four-year term of office has an annual salary of $103,892.
“During the campaign, I was surprised that some people don’t know what the Attorney General’s Office does,” Ravnsborg said.
The mission of the office of the SD Attorney General is ”to provide effective legal counsel and representation to all agencies of state government as well as to political subdivisions; to issue official legal opinions for the clarification of questions pertaining to state law; to provide criminal investigation and prosecution on office initiative and through support of the state's attorneys; to handle all appeals, civil and criminal, in the Supreme Court of South Dakota and all other courts of higher appeal; to provide legal advice, counsel, and representation in all civil, criminal, and administrative matters in which the state is a party or interested; to provide law enforcement officer training and certification; to maintain efficient law enforcement communication between all state law enforcement personnel as well as interstate and national law enforcement agencies; to provide consumer protection through public information, investigation of complaints, and prosecution of violations when necessary.”
Capitol Bureau reporter Del Bartels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org