Monday, July 6, 2009

Bob Mercer Article

From the Aberdeen American News:

Will candidate's book aid run for governor?
By Bob Mercer

2009-06-27 PIERRE - Scott Munsterman is the first candidate for governor in recent memory, if not also in our state's entire history, to have written a detailed book specifically linked to his campaign, outlining what he sees now in South Dakota and what he'd like to see in the future.

The book, “A Vision For South Dakota,” took him a few months longer to complete than he expected. But its release this month, in softcover and on his campaign's Internet site, comes nearly a full year before the 2010 Republican primary election.

Munsterman has been a chiropractor in Brookings since 1985. His standing in his profession is reflected by his service as a president for the South Dakota Chiropractors Association and the honor he received as South Dakota chiropractor of the year.

He's been a member of the Brookings City Council and a two-term mayor. Now he's putting his ideas out for voters statewide to consider.

Munsterman made clear with his weeks-long campaign kickoff tour of South Dakota that he was willing to work hard and to spend time visiting communities, no matter how small or remote.

The book leaves no doubt that he is a serious candidate for governor whose approach far exceeds what might be commonly expected from the mayor of a mid-sized South Dakota city.

He sets 10 specific goals, each with an action plan. The top five goals in order are stronger communities, a new approach to economic development, an internationally competitive education system, limiting the growth in health care costs and sustaining the environment.

The next five are becoming a leader in research and production of renewable energy, linking transportation planning and economic strategy, bringing state government to a position of financial strength, developing what he calls “communities of purpose, on purpose” and promoting “proactive policy development and leadership.”

Each of the 10 goals gets one page in the introductory section. He follows up with detailed chapters for each goal. Each chapter has a conclusion summarizing his thoughts.

Plan for government

The chapter on his policy development and leadership is revealing about how he would want a Munsterman administration to function.

One of his ideas is to use the months of April through June each year to bring together high-performance teams to focus on policy development. Then he would present the policy plans to the Legislature's Executive Board in draft form by June 1.

He also wants to open the budget planning process during the months of July through September to hear from legislators, local leaders and members of the public.

Going much further, he would deliver draft legislation by Sept. 1 for legislators to start considering. He also would present a five-year operational and capital improvement budget for consideration by legislators no later than Sept. 1.

Then he would meet with Republican and Democratic leaders of the Legislature in November for a review of the proposed policies and budget.

Munsterman also offers a much larger and more significant role for the lieutenant governor.

He said the specific duties would be matched to the person. But in general, he wants the lieutenant governor to “become the catalyst and advocate for movement of policy and budget through the legislative process.”

He also wants the lieutenant governor to serve as chairman for high-performance teams and work with administrative staff during the months outside the legislative session.

As for the governor, Munsterman sees the chief executive focusing on building public and private partnerships for advancing initiatives.

“The governor has access to forums and meetings no one else has the position to call forward for the good of the state. We must utilize the governor's position and access to key players to strategically grow on a national and international level and promote our state's domestic and energy products,” he writes on page 151.

In concluding the leadership chapter, he adds, “In review, South Dakota does not currently have a plan in place that makes efficient and effective use of limited resources within a strategic framework for growing the entire state. Our current approach neglects long-term planning, while simultaneously not facilitating ideal outcomes.”

What does he propose to do instead?

“To reform this process, we must utilize a new planning strategy, making full and efficient use of all offices of the executive branch as well as the legislative body through high-performance teams. These teams will research and develop policy and budgets, as well as measure ongoing performance, thereby making best use of the 40-day legislative session through a proactive model of governance,” he writes on the same page.

The word “proactive” came into South Dakota's political vocabulary in the 1980s via George S. Mickelson, who happened to come from Brookings and was twice elected governor in 1986 and 1990. South Dakota lost George in the 1993 plane crash.

Setting himself apart

We've had widely differing governors since voters changed the state constitution in 1972 to give four-year terms for governors and limit them to two consecutive terms.

There was progressive Democrat Dick Kneip, who left office early and was succeeded by Democrat Harvey Wollman.

There was tax-cutting and efficiency-driver Republican Bill Janklow, elected in 1978 and 1982, and elected to two more terms in 1994 and 1998.

There was George Mickelson, who famously said he didn't plan to manage misery and developed many of state government's approaches to economic development that remain in use.

And there was Walter Dale Miller who was the state's first and only full-time lieutenant governor. Miller became governor after the plane crash and was turned into a lame duck in June 1994 by his primary defeat by Janklow.

We are now in year seven of Gov. Mike Rounds. One of the four Republican candidates running to succeed him is his lieutenant governor, Dennis Daugaard. The others are Senate Republican leader Dave Knudson, rancher Ken Knuppe and Munsterman. No Democrat has entered the race.

With his book, Munsterman has set himself apart from the other candidates, as well as from Rounds, Janklow, Miller, Mickelson, Wollman and Kneip - the governors of the four-year-term era.

The questions now are whether voters will take the time to look at what Munsterman is planning to do and decide whether that's what they want from South Dakota's next governor.

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