Local political landscape will change after Tuesday's election Holly Pederson, Clay County Auditor Ruth Brunick, and Bonnie Albers, former county auditor, were kept busy Tuesday night after election polls closed in the county. They and a crew of other workers were on hand at the Clay County Courthouse to count ballots from the Nov. 3 election using automated machines. Voter turnout in Clay County was at a disappointing 46.5 percent, a far cry from other area counties, such as Bon Homme, that had a 71.7 percent voter turnout, and Turner County, where 62.8 percent of registered voters cast ballots. by David Lias What a difference an election day can make on the local political landscape.
A year ago, District 17 voters sent two Democrats to the House of Representatives in Pierre to finish out their terms.
Those incumbents — Gary Sokolow and Caitlin Collier, both of Vermillion — decided earlier this year that they would not seek re-election.
On Tuesday, District 17 voters didn't stick to the trends of the last S.D. House election. They elected two Republicans, Judy Clark, Vermillion, and H. Junior Engbrecht, Marion, to represent them in Pierre in the House when the next legislative session begins in January.
District 17 voters very nearly sent a Republican to the S.D. Senate, also.
By a razor-thin margin, however, Democratic incumbent Sen. John J. Reedy of Vermillion was re-elected, defeating his opponent, Republican Donna Schafer.
Reedy received 3,320 votes, barely outpacing Schafer, who received 3,132 votes.
The turnout of the District 17 House race would have been much different if the boundaries of the district didn't stray beyond Clay County to encompass most of Turner County.
Allen D. Johnson, Vermillion, was the top vote-getter in the District 17 House election among county residents, receiving 1,959 votes. The runner-up in the House race among Clay County precincts was Leota Conroy, Vermillion, who received 1,857 votes.
Clark and Engbrecht won the state House race by receiving significantly more votes in Turner County than Conroy and Johnson.
Clark and Engbrecht's Turner County totals, respectively, were 1,450 and 1,545. Johnson and Conroy fell behind considerably outside of Clay County, receiving 926 and 734 votes respectively in Turner County's portion of District 17.
Clay County's 46.5 percent voter turnout Tuesday was among the lowest in southeastern South Dakota, and that also may have determined the fate of winners and losers in local races.
Following is a listing of area counties and their respective voter turnout: Bon Homme County, 71.7 percent; Yankton, 65.5 percent; Hutchinson, 63.5 percent; Turner, 62.8 percent; Lincoln, 59 percent, and Union, 54.6 percent.
Other races had more predictable outcomes. Incumbents Gary Iverson and Gerald Sommervold were elected to another term on the Clay County Commission.
Also coasting to easy victories Tuesday were Gov. William Janklow, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. John Thune.
Joyce Hazeltine will continue as secretary of state, and State Treasurer Dick Butler was re-elected.
For more information, see the Election '98 listing that begins on this page.