Shantel Krebs and the U.S. House Race

Posted by Lori Walsh on

The conversation is edited for web publication. To listen to it in its entirety, click here.

Lori Walsh:

Welcome to In the Moment. I'm Lori Walsh. On June 5th, South Dakotans head to the polls to vote in the statewide primary election. Shantel Krebs wants your vote to be the Republican candidate for US House. Krebs grew up as a fourth generation farm kid near Arlington in Kingsbury County. She graduated with a business degree from Dakota State University. She served as a legislature in the state house and senate. Her current role is as South Dakota Secretary of State, and she is married to Mitch Krebs. She joins us now on the phone to talk about her campaign. Shantel Krebs, welcome back to In the Moment.

Shantel Krebs:

Well, thank you for having me, Lori. Good morning.

Lori Walsh:

Good morning. I think it's always important to start with qualifications. You have a long resume here. What are you focusing on when you talk to South Dakotans about why you're qualified to do the work that needs to be done in Washington?

Shantel Krebs:

Before we even get into the goals or issues or qualifications, I just want to share a little bit about my background, because I really want to make sure that our South Dakota voters know who I am and really makes up what decisions, my decision-making process, and why I'm gonna run for congress, and why I am running. So if you would allow me, Lori, let me share a little bit about my background.

Lori Walsh:

Absolutely. Thank you.

Shantel Krebs:

Thanks, Lori. I am a fourth generation farm kid, as you said. I grew up on a family farm. Mom, she did the books and ran the farm. And, of course, dad did too, but he also had a trucking company, and he hauled livestock and grain. And so just a great agriculture environment that I grew up around. I went on, and I owned my own businesses, and I had two small retail stores in downtown Sioux Falls on Phillips Avenue. That was early on when, really, Phillips Avenue was growing and expanding and developing. And so I felt like we are a pioneer, a lot of us down there, were pioneers in the development of the downtown Sioux Falls environment that it is today. So I'm pretty proud of that fact to be a part of that growth with my two small retail businesses that I had.

And while I was running my retail businesses, like you said, Lori, I served in the South Dakota Legislature as a citizen legislature. When I was a business owner and had my shoe store and clothing store, that's really where I interacted with the Secretary of State's office. And I saw some of the delays and encountered some of the challenges that were having issues in the office of the Secretary of State where there was delay in filings and business delays, and annual reports weren't getting posted and returned in a timely manner, and that's when I decided to run for the Secretary of State's office.

I took on my own party to do so, and that was in 2015. And, Lori, a lot of folks can probably recall that when I walked into the Secretary of State's office, we walked into a mess. And for the last three years we've essentially been holding government accountable in a fashion where this office needs to run like a business versus running at the feet of government. And essentially in the last three years we've delivered on everything that I said and I campaigned on as Secretary of State, because some of the things that we encountered were delays on delays and business filings that were over six weeks behind.

Bank lean filings were over eight weeks behind. Concealed carry permits weren't getting issued out the door. Now everything's in realtime, up to date, and the website is easily accessible, so information is available to the public in realtime. We're real proud of my team. I brought back from the experience and that institutional knowledge. I always say a good leader surrounds their self with even better people, and that's why our office has had the success of now operating and running at the speed of business versus the speed of government.

And especially because we interact with business every day, we have to be in realtime, so we're real proud of our accomplishments here in the Secretary of State's office. So essentially when you ask me the qualifications, Lori, that really, these are all those experiences that I just mentioned in life in general of why I am running for congress. And so I tell you ... Go ahead.

Lori Walsh:

You mention one more on your website that I find particularly delightful, and that's you say you're a farm kid, a waitress, a small business owner, and Secretary of State. Let's throw in that waitress. What did you learn as a waitress in small town South Dakota?

Shantel Krebs:

Oh, Lori. Thank you for asking. I have such fond memories, and I hope for those that are still listening into Arlington South Dakota, hello. The city café put me through college, my tip money. I started waitressing in the seventh grade up there. And, of course, a coffee and pancakes was 95 cents, with tax was a dollar. If I got a 50 cent tip, I was like, "This is so awesome." When the hunters would come to town, this was the best part, so when out of state hunters would come in and order steak and eggs on a Saturday morning, and they'd leave a $2.00 tip, I thought I had just won the jackpot.

I think it really developed my communication skills and just listening and hearing people talk around the coffee about issues of the day, what's going on in the city or the government and their frustrations. And that really, essentially, made me interested in the process, too, just hearing gentlemen talk around the coffee table, at the a back table. And, again, like I said, that tip money put me through college. I was the first one in my family to attend college and essentially paid for it with some scholarship money and my waitressing tip money. So I put myself through college on those two things. I'm pretty proud of that.

Lori Walsh:

Let's talk about some of the things that we've seen coming out of Washington just in the past year during President Trump's administration, for example, and certainly some of this is building on from before he came. But the Affordable Care Act debate and tax reform. As you look at some of those conversations in Washington, imagine yourself being elected and going to serve South Dakota in congress, what needs to happen next in those areas? In the areas of tax reform, for example? A good start, I'm guessing, that you would think, and then what happens next?

Shantel Krebs:

Sure. Well, like I said, a real reason why I'm running for congress is because of President Trump's results so far. And we can reflect on them, whether it be, like we said, the tax reform or tax cuts, and I can just share with you and my employees in this office, the average state employee makes around $35 to $39,000, and they even commented on their paycheck this week of seeing a $25 or $40 more in their paycheck. And to them, I mean, that's real dollars. And the employees noticed that and recognized that could be $50 to $100 more per month in their paycheck.

So the tax reform, what he has done is the first time in how many years we've had real reform, and I think a bigger part of that, too, is the just the results about deregulation with all of his agencies and really talk about the EPA. The EPA in South Dakota continues to push down burdens on our South Dakota ranchers and producers. I mean, for example, CIRCLA. I mean, thank goodness the president's saying, "Let's delay these implementation of these rules that are almost impossible for our livestock producers to have to report how much manure's in a pit.

I mean, these are unreasonable expectations, and they don't have any guidelines that are clearly stated. So deregulation is another aspect that needs to continue to happen. And like you said, just the economy. Last night I was at the Go Red for Women's American Heart Association event, and at my table, all the women at this table were commenting on their 401Ks and the growth in the economy and how their 401Ks, and, again, these are all results that President Trump has delivered. And the reason I'm running is I want to continue to help President Trump deliver more results. And that's exactly what we're talking about is what we shared just now.

Lori Walsh:

Are you concerned about the deficit that, you know, is increasing with federal tax reform?

Shantel Krebs:

Absolutely. When you asked about what are the issues and my goals, that would be my first priority is cutting spending. When we talk about ... Interestingly, I don't feel that congress is having that conversation as strong as they should. They talked about tax reform and tax cuts. However, the other side of that conversation is cutting spending and controlling the deficit. The tax reform to me shouldn't have been just deficit neutral or revenue neutral. It should have been deficit neutral. And so one of my main issues and reasons that I'm running and want to accomplish in congress is to cut spending, holding the federal government accountable.

And I really believe that this is the first time in my life that the federal government is actually gonna be held more accountable and more responsive to the citizens of South Dakota because of what President Trump has initiated in rolling back some of the regulations that have been imposed upon our ranchers and farmers and our businesses. So first priority, cutting spending. You asked a question, and that could be in just the form of reform, whether it be programs that need to be reformed and made them more efficient.

It's example that I use in my office in how I've made my office more efficient and more responsive accountable is reforming the way we've done things here. You hear about the challenges of paperworking process in federal government, environmental impacts statements getting held up for six years. Why is this process [inaudible 00:09:28] long? We need to ask those questions, and I want to ask those kind of questions as your next congresswoman, "Why is the department holding up these processes and businesses to try to develop or grow?"

Lori Walsh:

There has been as we watch the race in South Dakota shape up, now there has been a lot of rhetoric early on about Muslims in America, American Muslims, about immigration, about religious freedom. And I wanted to give you an opportunity to clarify your thoughts on this topic as it sort of started to unfold within the state.

Shantel Krebs:

Sure, Lori. Well, for me, there's no immigration reform on the federal level until we secure our borders. That means funding the wall and building the wall.

Lori Walsh:

Did you want to go on beyond that? Or just start with the wall and no conversation. I'm trying to understand. So no conversation other than the infrastructure, finance this thing, build it, and then we can talk about other things? Is that what you're saying? Do I understand?

Shantel Krebs:

Absolutely. Yes. And I apologize. I thought it cut out there. I do apologize, Lori.

Lori Walsh:

Oh. That's okay. What does it take to move forward on that? Because it seems like a pretty contentious topic in Washington. Not everybody agrees that it's affordable. And are you talking a physical wall? Or when we have this conversation again, the rhetoric goes back and forth in some areas where some people are just talking about increased border security along the US/Mexico border. Some people are talking about, "No, it is a concrete wall, and it needs to look like this." Where do you stand on that?

Shantel Krebs:

Absolutely, Lori. For me, securing our borders means building a physical wall but also support in dollars, not only for a physical wall but for agents or virtual border agents that support as well in that area. We know Trump is a deal maker. I mean, that's his strength as a business person. And so we know that congress has their hands full in the next couple of months. They have to take action on this, and I see that happening, because that's his strength and that congress ... You know, I hear a lot of frustration from South Dakotans across the state.

They're saying, "We want someone to go to DC that's gonna work, work together to create reform but also working across the aisle. And that's what I think President Trump's best asset is is working together to create and getting something done. People want to see results, and for once I think they feel like things are happening. President Trump is doing just that.

Lori Walsh:

So in favor of securing the US/Mexico border through building the wall, working on those negotiations. Now let's switch to the broader conversation about immigration and my question about religious freedom. Any clarity that you wanted to provide on that topic and how you approach it?

Shantel Krebs:

Sure. Our founding fathers fought on the basis of our country is for the freedom of religion. And so that's very clear as how we as our founding fathers and the constitution's interpreted is that freedom of religion is what is our founding fathers and the basis for our country.

Lori Walsh:

And that includes Muslims?

Shantel Krebs:

Freedom of religion of any religion.

Lori Walsh:

How do you see the race in South Dakota shaping up?

Shantel Krebs:

I'm excited to really start talking a lot more about issues, all the issues. And, again, when I'm traveling across the state, whether it be, like I said, the Heart Association event last night, the women at the table were just discussing about taxes and how it's affecting their paychecks. We were talking about the growth in the economy. We hear a lot about workforce development needs. So those are areas that I know we need to focus on in congress. And I think one of the areas that President Trump has done a great job is apprenticeship programs. We've never had a president talk about apprenticeship programs before, and actually there are so many businessmen and women and the contractors.

You hear from construction and contractors that say, "We need workers. We need to train them on the job. What can we do to help that?" And we are appreciative of the Department of Labor's grant to help with our contractors across the state to implement apprenticeship programs. And those are just some of the things that I'm hearing. That's what I heard last night and yesterday here in Pierre with the contractors, you go [inaudible 00:13:51] and you talk to your stock growers association and our ranchers, and they're frustrated with electronic logging devices and the challenges that a truck driver has to now respond with an electronic device and report to the federal government and delay livestock being delivered.

And, of course, that's a concern about how we're humanely treating these animals that we're hauling. I'm very passionate about that issue. My father for how many years since 1964, he's 77 years old, and he hauls cattle for a living. This type of regulation is exactly why I'm running. Federal government and bureaucrats in Washington DC deciding how a small businessman, such as my father, needs to run his business for how many years he's been safe and effective hauling cattle all these years, and now all of a sudden they're telling us in Washington DC that he has to put an electronic device and change the way he's been doing it with the paper log book for how many years.

This is why I'm running, is because Washington DC has got to listen to our small businessmen and women and how they are impacted by bureaucrats making decisions without even understanding the issue as a whole. When you ask about issues, those are the things that I'm hearing from across South Dakota, is the EPA requiring our livestock producers to report how much manure's in a pit and the delayed implementation of that. So these are all examples of how I'm the only one in this race that has an agricultural background, that has a grasp of how hardcore reality. We are in a farm crisis. This economy is really a challenge for our farmers and ranchers in South Dakota's number one industry.

Lori Walsh:

Do you mind elaborating on that, how much manure is stored in a pit? Because you say it, and if I don't have an agricultural background, I'm like, "What?" What exactly is the federal government asking for, and why are they asking for it?

Shantel Krebs:

Yeah. Obviously for water runoff and safety of the manure collection sites and feed lots, the EPA now is gonna start asking, "How are you handling it? How are you disposing of it? What are you doing with it? How much of it is there?" And so all of the reporting. It's interesting, the EPA doesn't even have a really good form. They haven't created the form. So they're saying you need to start doing this, but USDA hasn't even come up with a form. It's a perfect example where there's no guidance from our federal government. They're telling us that they have to do this, but our farmers and ranchers and our producers and our feedlot folks don't even know what to do with it.

So, again, I'm using this as an example of how government just puts a regulation in without congressional oversight, and an agency just imposes a new regulation, and we don't have congressional oversight. Which is actually one of my second points that I want to go to Washington DC for is to talk about how we can control the rulemaking authority that these agencies or the presidents have is that there has got to be some type of congressional oversight on any new rule that's implemented from an agency. That's how we do it in South Dakota and the legislature.

When I was in the legislature, if there was any department that had a new rule, it had to be promulgated in statutes but also approved by a rulemaking committee, so that the legislatures could approve that without an agency just imposing something upon our business folks and our citizens of South Dakota. So that's a great example, another reason why I want to change the process and the rulemaking authority in congress that there is congressional oversight and authority.

Lori Walsh:

If you were elected and represented South Dakota in Congress, what are your goals as far as serving on the agriculture committee, what are you looking for once you get there that you think is going to provide the most impact on state residents?

Shantel Krebs:

Absolutely. My first choice will be to represent and be on the agricultural committee. Again, I'm the only one in this race, the only candidate that has an agricultural background. I was proud to be the senate ag chair woman in the senate when I served in a legislature. And this is an important year. This year the farm bill's expiring. And so we need to reauthorize a new farm bill. And my focus will be on that farm bill as I don't know if it'll get passed this year, even though it's up and it's gonna be expiring. That's a tough vote, too. There's a lot of components. It's a $1 trillion farm bill. And 80% of that farm bill is welfare reform or welfare assistance.

The primary focus for me in our agriculture environment here is that we need have the components taking care of such as a farm safety net for our producers. We've got to make sure that the Livestock Indemnity Program has good language in there. I feel that there should be flexibility in the conservation and CRP programs, soil health reporting. Those are all components that need to be included and reformed and updated in the new farm bill when I hopefully will be in congress and hopefully voting on it in 2019.

Lori Walsh:

Let's close with national defense. Also on your website you mention the need for increased national defense. Why?

Shantel Krebs:

A focus in the last administration hasn't been the effort of putting money forth with national defense. Just the other day we had our veterans here in Pierre, and when you talk about national defense, I think we all know that national security is a conversation that I hear everywhere. It's interesting, like I shared with you, some of the agricultural concerns that I'm hearing, but one of the other areas that I get asked about is, "Where do you stand on national defense and security?" I think citizens of South Dakota and across America, they're concerned about security. And, of course, ISIS and the attacks that we have seen across the world that President Trump has made a concerted effort to put extra funding in those areas.

And we have a high number of veterans in South Dakota per capita. I think there's 75,000 veterans, and we need to put our emphasis to making sure that we're taking care of our veterans here in South Dakota after they have served. But not only that is putting the money and the resources for those that are currently serving in the armed forces.

Lori Walsh:

Do you feel it's more of a ... I'm asking this kind of as a veteran, is it a philosophy that veterans and American citizens need to see the government talking about this and doing certain things? Or is there an actual problem that you think needs to be solved with how things are funded? Fund what? Increase what? What do we need more of? Or is it just we need to be talking about it. We need to be putting our energy there?

Shantel Krebs:

That's a good question, Lori, and there's two parts to that is that when we say funding, specifically updating equipment and resources, I mean, we have Ellsworth Air Force Base here in South Dakota, and we need to make sure that the drones or whatever it may be that they need for equipment is updated and have the resources and the funding to pay for that for parts or whatever it may be. The second part of that, too, is taking care of our veterans when they come back home. We've seen the challenges in our veterans hospitals, in the performance of the care that's given, wait times, the lack of accountability and the measures there.

They've made some improvement, but there are still a long ways to go. And Secretary Shulkin is something that we need to continue reminding them. We have a veterans hospital right here in South Dakota in Hot Springs that they've talked about closing. And we gotta fight for that to stay and remain open, because we have such a high number per capita in the state of veterans in South Dakota. And so when you talk about there's two parts to that conversation, I think, of national defense is funding appropriately for their equipment and resources and what they need on the ground. But then there's also taking care of our veterans when they come home.

Lori Walsh:

Shantel Krebs, you want to leave us with a website or something where people can find out more about your campaign?

Shantel Krebs:

I would love to just close with saying another priority is, of course, our South Dakota values. I want to share with you a saying that my mom and dad taught me when I grew up. They sat me down at a young age and say, "Listen here, young lady. This is how we live our life. You're gonna get up early and you're gonna work hard. You're gonna do your chores. You're gonna mind your own business. You're gonna go to bed, say your prayers, and gonna get up and do it all over again." And that's really how I make my decisions every day. And South Dakotans are rugged, and they're independent, and that's how I'm gonna represent South Dakota in Washington DC as your next congresswoman, and I look forward to that opportunity.

Lori Walsh:

Thank you so much. We'll see you next time.

Shantel Krebs:

Thank you, Lori.

 

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