With election day approaching on Nov. 6, candidates in multiple races took advantage of a public forum Saturday in Aberdeen to explain where they stand on key issues that affect South Dakota residents.
The forum took place at 9 a.m. in the Hub Area Multi District Vocational Center, and was co-sponsored by the Aberdeen Area League of Women Voters and the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates for state House and state Senate seats in District 2 and District 3, two seats on the Brown County Commission, and the states attorney race attended the forum.
Each discussion followed the same format: the candidates talked about their background and overall goals.
After the introduction, candidates answered a series of questions from the public. Each candidate had one minute to give a wrap-up statement at the end of the segment.
House, Senate races
Referred law 14, a program designed to aid the construction of large projects in South Dakota, was the most disputed topic in the state government races.
If passed, 22 percent of contractor's excise tax revenues would be placed into a "Large Project Development Fund," starting Jan. 1, 2013.
The cash from the fund would then be given out as grant money to projects that cost more than $5 million.
The measure will be decided by voters on Nov. 6.
Incumbent Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, running for re-election in District 3, said not passing this law could mean companies will choose to build in other states, which means fewer jobs in South Dakota.
His son, incumbent Rep. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, also running for re-election in District 3, agreed and said it is a key business tool that will help create more revenue in the long run.
House candidates in District 3 — Democrats Bill Antonides and Zachary Anderson, along with Republican Dan Kaiser — opposed the measure, along with District 2 state Senate candidate Democrat Chuck Welke.
Kaiser said he liked the idea, but it sounded to him like it would take money from the middle and lower classes and give it to corporations. He couldn't get behind a measure that "taxed the poor and gave to the rich."
Antonides and Welke said the bill directs taxpayer money to the wrong place. Until education is better-funded, there should not be corporate grants, the men said.
"We should not give corporations breaks while leaving our kids behind," Antonides said.
All the candidates were asked their opinions on social issues, including abortion, gun control and gay marriage.
Most candidates agreed on these issues: Gun laws were fine as they are, South Dakotans already voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and most were against abortion.
Anderson said that, while he personally opposed abortion, clinics should be available for women because some will get abortions one way or another, and he said it's better to have the procedure done safely.