- Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Most South Dakota legislators have months to prepare for the upcoming session. Then there’s Sen. Alan Solano - who got all of one day.

Solano, a Republican from Rapid City, was tapped by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Jan. 13 to fill a vacancy created when Sen. Stan Adelstein resigned for health reasons. The session started the next day, and it’s been a scramble since then for Solano, who has done his best to focus on his role as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“With such a late appointment, it’s really difficult to get bills organized,” Solano said.

Solano is one of five people to make their way to the South Dakota Legislature in the past year by appointment, rather than election. Besides Adelstein, two lawmakers resigned to take new jobs, one left to go to law school and one moved.

But Solano and other appointees said they had planned to run for elected office - someday.

David Anderson, R-Hudson, was chosen in May to fill a House seat. Anderson’s Capitol experience includes lobbying for the farm mutual insurance industry

“My dad was a legislator for 10 years in the ‘70s so I kind of grew up with it,” said Anderson, a fifth-generation farmer and owner of Canton Insurance Agency. “I’ve always had an interest in it.”

Republican Sen. Blake Curd, of Sioux Falls, already served one term in the state House from 2009 to 2011. He said he had been too tied up with his practice as an orthopedic surgeon to think about running again.

“It wasn’t something that was on my immediate horizon,” said Curd. He said being appointed was an honor.

Curd is president-elect for the national trade organization Physician Hospitals of America and served as a doctor in the Air Force. He said he draws on his experiences in health care as a legislator.

Rep. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, is a real estate agent and served four terms on the Dell Rapids City Council. She has co-sponsored two bills concerning local and municipal government, which she said was a natural given her background and interest in local control.

Sen. Chuck Jones, R-Flandreau, was appointed last December. He has taken the lead on two bills that reflect his background as a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and as an Army veteran. Jones sponsored updates to a bill that would remove “squaw” from South Dakota place names and two others to commend South Dakota Air National Guard members.

“I’m a good person to carry those,” said Jones, referring to his experience in the armed forces.

With the exception of Curd, who served in the Legislature before, some appointees said they were still learning the process.

“I’m out here just trying to be the best representative I can be,” said Jones. “You got to be a good listener; it’s not necessarily about party lines.”

All five said they planned to campaign to maintain their current seats.

“I’ve got my petitions basically ready to turn in,” Anderson said.

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