District 8’s only representative from Moody County has withdrawn from this fall’s legislative race.
Dr. Leslie Heinemann said last week that he made the decision after talking with his family and considering his two dental practices in Flandreau and Dell Rapids. He has served in the S.D. House for six years and in 2016 was chosen as the Republican House Majority Whip. District 8 also includes Lake, Miner and Sanborn counties.
“One of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make was weighing the commitment I have to my constituents versus those of my patients in our rural dental offices in Flandreau and Dell Rapids. While I had every intention to run for reelection, after careful consideration and lengthy discussions with my wife, Libby, and family, I have decided to withdraw as a candidate from District 8 in the S.D. House this fall,” he said in a prepared statement. “This decision has truly been one of the most difficult I have ever had to face.”
Heinemann said he will serve the remainder of his term and will support whoever is chosen to fill his spot on the ballot.
Under South Dakota election rules, the central committees for the Republican party of the four counties will need to meet and choose a candidate to put on the ballot in Heinemann’s place. Heinemann would like to see someone from Moody County fill that spot.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed representing the citizens of District 8 out in Pierre, especially in a leadership role,” he said. “I'll miss the camaraderie and good friendships I've made while serving in the S.D. House. My interest in public policy will continue as we work together to make this a better state.”
Heinemann, who has dental offices with his daughter, Kim, has been a dentist for 37 years in Flandreau and 18 in Dell Rapids. As he and his daughter look to add another dentist to the practice, they have found that interested candidates would like someone to mentor them at the beginning and introduce them to the community, he said. That becomes more difficult to do if he is gone three months of the year, he said.
“We’re in the process. We have had some potential leads,” he said of recruiting another dentist. It’s a process they have been working on for a few years.