Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias By the time you read this, the country will have witnessed the second debate between presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush.

And, no doubt, national television and print media will once again be sharing their versions of who won the debate, who had the best style, who was more combative, who sighed the least and fantasized the most, and who has the strongest lockbox.

With all the attention that Bush and Gore have been getting since Labor Day, it's easy to forget that here in South Dakota we'll be faced with some rather significant decisions when we enter polling booths on Nov. 7.

That's why we urge readers of the Plain Talk and Wakonda Times to pay close attention in the coming weeks.

We soon will be sharing information about local county and South Dakota legislative races and the candidates who are seeking those positions.

Democratic Sen. John "Joe" Reedy of Vermillion is being challenged by Republican Donna Schafer of Vermillion.

Five candidates are vying for District 17's two seats in the South Dakota House. They include incumbents Judy Clark of Vermillion and H. Junior Engbrecht of Marion, and B.J. Nesselhuf, Maxine Johnson, and Jason Eisemenger, all of Vermillion.

Three Democrats � incumbent Ralph Westergaard of Wakonda, Heath Nelson, Wakonda, and Thomas Vogel, Vermillion, and three Republicans � incumbent Bill Willroth Sr., Vermillion, Mary Jensen, Gayville, and Dick Brown, Vermillion, all are running for election to the Clay County Commission.

Voters will be asked to choose only two candidates from this large field.

South Dakota's general election ballot also will feature a cornucopia of state issues that have been brought before voters to decide.

They include:


* Constitution Amendment A, which, if approved, would permit the Legislature to establish multiple classes of agricultural property for school taxation purposes.


* Constitutional Amendment B. If voters approve this, citizens will be able to file initiatives which combine, eliminate or jointly finance local offices, functions or government units.


* Constitutional Amendment C, which would repeal the state's inheritance tax if approved.


* Constitutional Amendment D, which, if approved, would repeal video lottery in South Dakota, and force lawmakers to look for other ways to replace the $95 million in revenue deposited in the property tax reduction fund from the state's share of lottery proceeds.


* Constitutional Amendment E. Approval of this measure would allow the South Dakota Investment Council to invest the permanent school fund into stocks and similar investments. While educators appear to be in support of this measure, citizens who attended an education issues forum featuring District 17 legislative candidates Wednesday at Vermillion High School learned that candidates don't agree on this issue.


* Initiated Measure 1, which, if approved, would raise the maximum bet limits for limited cards games and slot machines in Deadwood.

Obviously, Nov. 7 will be a very important day, not only for just the nation, but also for South Dakota, for our legislative district and for Clay County.

At first blush, all of the choices that South Dakota voters will be asked to make that day are enough to make one's head spin. There are so many issues, and so many candidates. How can citizens make a truly informed decision?

We hope we can be of assistance in this department. Starting this week right up to our issue before election day, we will sharing information on the 2000 ballot questions provided to us by the South Dakota Secretary of State's office.

The reports on each measure, we believe, are balanced and fair. They include short pro and con essays that help reveal both the good and the not so good characteristics of the various ballot issues.

We also plan to share profiles of local candidates. We urge our readers to play close attention. There's too much at stake for citizens to be ill-informed Nov. 7.

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