Pat Miller, a former first lady who is married to former Gov. Walter Dale Miller, will serve as Gant’s deputy. Both are Republicans. Miller replaces operations director Pat Powers, who resigned last month amid an investigation by the attorney general.
Sue Roust, who retired at the end of 2010 after 20 years as Minnehaha County auditor, will serve as elections supervisor through the November elections. She is a Democrat. She replaces Aaron Lorenzen, who resigned Wednesday, the same day Miller’s hiring was announced.
No evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found during the investigation by Attorney General Marty Jackley into the activities of Powers, who ran a political campaign business on the side with Gant’s knowledge until May, when Gant asked him to cease.
In both cases this week, Gant, 35, turned to familiar, more experienced people in Miller and Roust as the office’s new faces.
Miller said she and Gant worked together on matters involving the South Dakota State Historical Society Foundation, of which she’s been the director.
Miller sought the Republican nomination for state auditor in 2010 but said Thursday she has no intention of running for office in the future.
"The priorities in my life have changed in the past year and I am committed to spending as much time as possible with my husband and children,” she said.
Miller said she and Gant worked together in recent months during the process of selecting an investment firm for the historical foundation’s accounts.
“I indicated to Jason that if he needed my assistance, I was willing to help,” Miller said.
She described the appointment as his deputy as an honor.
“I have been following from afar the progress he has made since taking office and believe in the vision he has for the Secretary of State office in the future,” she said, “and I am excited to be part of his team.”
Among the reforms Gant has worked to bring to the office are more Internet access to information and more digital filing of reports, applications and forms by corporations, candidates, lobbyists, business people and others.
Roust was a mentor of sorts for Gant in election issues during his six years in the Legislature, despite being in different political parties.
“He’s taken a lot of advice from Sue Roust over the years and respects her immensely,” said Drew Duncan, a Sioux Falls lawyer who has been an adviser and political ally to Gant.
Duncan said Gant spent a lot of time in Roust’s office at the Minnehaha County courthouse learning about election laws and procedures.
Roust generally received praise from people Thursday as nonpartisan in her conduct as auditor overseeing county elections and extremely knowledgeable. She didn’t have an opponent in 2006, the last of five elections she won as county auditor.
After her retirement from the courthouse, Roust briefly returned to public service by accepting an interim appointment as Sioux Falls city clerk last year following the city council’s dismissal of Debra Owen.
Roust likely is the first member of her party to serve as state elections supervisor since Democrat Lorna Herseth was secretary of state from 1973 through 1978.
Roust’s presence likely will assist Gant in his relationships with county auditors this fall during the run-up to the November elections.