A peek at South Dakota's PUC candidates

11/1/2012 7:00 PM
By Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Five candidates compete for two seats on South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission. Here's a peek:

KRISTIE FIEGEN, Republican incumbent.

—VITALS: Fiegen, 50, is a former state legislator from Sioux Falls and former president of Junior Achievement of South Dakota. She was appointed to finish a retiring commissioner's term two years ago and is seeking a full six-year term.

—PLATFORM: Fiegen says she'll continue to fight for farmers, families and small businesses in setting utility rates, and she opposes federal environmental regulations that increase the cost of electricity.

—QUOTE: "I'll be a voice for consumers every day, every hour."

MATT McGOVERN, Democrat challenging Fiegen.

—VITALS: McGovern, 40, is a Sioux Falls lawyer who is a grandson of former U.S. Sen. George McGovern. He was a law clerk for a federal judge and has worked to promote wind farms.

—PLATFORM: McGovern believes bankruptcy law should be changed so that farmers are considered secured creditors, putting them on equal footing with banks. He also chides current commissioners for letting utilities charge customers too much.

—QUOTE: "I want to be an independent voice in Pierre."

RUSSELL CLARKE, Libertarian challenging Fiegen.

—VITALS: Clarke, 52, of Sioux Falls, is the only Libertarian in the race. He's a former college instructor with degrees in classical languages who now works for an insurance company.

—PLATFORM: Clarke says that better information, obtained earlier, will help the commission be fair to utility companies and their customers.

—QUOTE: "I'm a Libertarian and I stick to Libertarian values — maximum freedom and minimum government."

CHRIS NELSON, Republican incumbent.

—VITALS: Nelson, 48, of Pierre, is a former state election supervisor and secretary of state who was appointed to the commission two years ago after another commissioner resigned. He is running for the remaining four years of that term.

—PLATFORM: Nelson says he's already helped hold down utility rates and is working to prevent future failures of grain buyers. Voters know him from his eight years as secretary of state and can trust him as a commissioner.

—QUOTE: "The people of South Dakota have had an opportunity to see how I operate, how I work, for a whole lot of years. They know what they're going to get."

NICK NEMEC, Democrat challenging Nelson.

—VITALS: Nemec, 54, of Holabird, is a farmer and former state lawmaker who has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since 2000.

—PLATFORM: Nemec says he jumped into the race because he was upset with how the commission handled the failure of Anderson Seed Co. of Redfield, which cost farmers $2.6 million. He also wants better Internet and cellphone service in rural areas.

—QUOTE: "I'm willing to make the hard choices on this Anderson Seed deal to make sure this never happens again."


Will the new Dairy Margin Protection Program eventually pay off for farmers?

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