SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It was a packed room at the Holiday Inn City Centre as the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary hosted gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith for a conversation. 

The event was intended to be a debate between all three gubernatorial candidates but only Jamie Smith accepted the invitation. Rather than hearing the candidates’ debate hot button issues, a moderator asked Smith about 10 issues ranging from a city zoning measure to recreational marijuana.

KELOLAND News reached out to Governor Noem’s campaign to see how she’s connecting with voters weeks before the election. Noem’s Communications Director Ian Fury said she was door-knocking.

When asked about how close the race is, Fury said The SDSU Poll, “has very little polling history and a terrible track record.

Fury added: “Governor Noem’s top priority is cutting taxes for South Dakota families by delivering the elimination of the food sales tax. By contrast, today, Jamie Smith said that he’s looking for “more things to tax.'”

KELOLAND News reached out to Libertarian Tracey Quint about Monday’s event but have yet to receive a response.


Recently, Governor Noem expressed her support to repeal the food sales tax in South Dakota. It’s a stance that’s long been held by the Democratic Party and supported in the legislature by Smith.

“We’ve always thought it was a regressive tax at my party. We’ve been running this bill for 20 years,” Smith said. “So, it’s not a new thing. I’ll let you know, though, what is new? And that’s the governor’s support of this. The governor’s supportiveness has not been there.”

Noem, in a statement released Monday afternoon, takes issue with Smith’s answer at the Rotary meeting where he quoted a friend saying, “We don’t need to tax things more; we need more things to tax.”

Smith was answering a question on how he as governor would make up for the loss of revenue from the food tax. Smith said he would look at the potential passing of recreational marijuana through Initiated Measure 27 to offset the loss of the food sales tax revenue.

Noem said this comment is indicative of Smith’s capabilities.

“When someone tells you who they are, believe them,” said Governor Kristi Noem in a release from her campaign. “I have cut taxes for South Dakotans, and my number one priority is eliminating the sales tax on food. Jamie Smith proved today that he can’t be trusted with South Dakota’s finances.”

Noem goes on to cite two bills that Smith supported in the state legislature that would have authorized a county gross receipts tax and lower the food tax in order to increase the rate of taxation on certain goods and services.

“Jamie Smith has a record of raising taxes. He opposed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which then-Congresswoman Noem helped pass for the people of South Dakota. That bill put $2,400 back in the pockets of the average South Dakota family,” the release from Noem’s campaign reads.

Noem’s campaign has claimed that repealing the food sales tax could help “lower the tax burden on South Dakotans by another $100 million.”

Smith called Noem’s announcement a political stunt and took aim at her comments that a special session ahead of the election wouldn’t receive the votes to pass it through the legislature.

“My job would be to work to get the votes. We did get the votes in the House this year to pass it. We got it over to the Senate, but it got a kill order, I’m sure it did,” Smith said.

Libertarian Tracey Quint says on her website that she is in favor of keeping South Dakota’s tax burden low by lowering or abolishing existing taxes when possible.


The conversation on the food sales tax quickly shifted to marijuana as Smith told Rotary members that the cannabis industry could become a source of revenue for the state to fund other industries.

“There will be more funds that come in because of this. And I think those are areas that we can use the tax money from this to help support mental health in our communities and things like that,” Smith said.

Following the 2020 election when South Dakotans voted to legalize marijuana through Amendment A, Noem ordered Colonel Rick Miller of the Highway Patrol to begin litigation on her behalf.

In 2021, Noem was in favor of the South Dakota Supreme Court’s ruling that Amendment A violated the state’s constitution.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision on Amendment A is about,” Noem tweeted following the ruling. “We do things right — and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law.”

Noem has shown support for medical marijuana and the state’s program that is now up and running.

Quint is in favor of legalizing marijuana and states on her website that “…Kristi Noem unjustly used her influence in the state to declare it unconstitutional.”

Smith also called for the decriminalization of cannabis citing a woman he spoke with from Wessington Springs who has a felony marijuana conviction. The woman was a counselor and is now unable to find employment in her field, Smith said.

“And so, I think we need to look at this in a responsible way, implemented responsibly, and making sure that we do everything we can to make sure that we’re as safe as we can be, but yet understanding that people are going to use this,” Smith said.


Another issue on the ballot this November is Amendment D, which would expand Medicaid in South Dakota. Smith expressed support for the measure saying it would benefit thousands of South Dakotans as well as health systems and nursing homes.

Smith went on to link Medicaid expansion to easing the burden on South Dakota’s corrections system.

“But we also have this mental health problem and why are a lot of people incarcerated? Because they have mental health issues and they’re medicating with drugs. So how do we shift that, right? How do you take the money out of here and move it instead to treatment? Addiction is not more of a moral failing; addiction is an illness. How do we treat it as such? You know, how we do that? Medicaid expansion may be part of that because it provides more for health care,” Smith said.

While Noem’s website does not mention Medicaid, she does show support for improving mental health programs and rehab facilities as well as “modernizing South Dakota’s correctional system.”

When Governor Noem learned of systemic problems in our state corrections system, she took swift action to replace bad leadership. She provided the right equipment and training to make sure correctional security officers have the tools to do their jobs safely. And she worked on pay raises to retain the high-quality officers that are already there and recruit new officers to back them up. Since then, starting pay for correctional officers has gone from $17 to $23.50, a 38% increase.

Quint’s website states that she is opposed to mandates of any kind when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.


Another major topic during the Rotary meeting centered on South Dakota’s trigger law banning abortion.

Smith is opposed to the current ban, saying it’s gone too far.

“I have doctors that have called me that said they can’t practice medicine right now. ‘You don’t understand,’ people always say, ‘Well, no, that’s not an abortion.’ No, that is an abortion,” Smith said. “A [dilation and curettage] is an abortion. Okay, at a certain level, that’s what they’re coded as. They can’t do that.”

Smith said a referendum process by the voters would be the best path to deciding what to do on abortion access the state.

Noem celebrated the fall of Roe in June, tweeting, “We have prayed for this day, and now it is here. Now, we must redouble our focus on taking care of mothers in crisis. Help is available for you. Adoption is an option. You are never alone.” 

Noem also launched the website to provide resources on pregnancy, adoption and other financial assistance to pregnant South Dakotans.

Quint believes that government should be kept out of the matter of abortion, “…leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”


The conversation then shifted to a more Sioux Falls-centric topic: Wholestone Foods.

The meat processing just off of Interstate 229 and Benson Road has been a point of contention for the people of Sioux Falls who will vote in November on whether to allow more slaughterhouses within city limits.

Smith stood firmly in the middle on the topic of Wholestone Foods, only saying that he supports bringing in jobs and that the plant would be good for rural communities and farmers in the Sioux Falls area.