Jean Hunhoff the SD Legislature’s longest-serving woman

August 2020 is the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote. Women’s suffrage in South Dakota had actually been approved two years earlier, in a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 1918.

Since that time, 201 women have served in the South Dakota State Legislature (according to the LRC Legislator Historical Listing). The first, Gladys Pyle, was elected in 1922; she went on to serve as Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. Another female legislator, Kristi Noem, became the first woman elected Governor in 2018; an earlier post looked at the various “firsts” for women in South Dakota politics. Another current legislator, Susan Wismer, was the first major-party nominee for Governor in 2014; another earlier post looked at women who ran for Governor prior to Governor Noem.

Hunhoff_2019Of those 201 female legislators, 27 have served for at least ten years. The longest serving among them is Jean Hunhoff. Hunhoff, a Republican, has served 20 years representing Yankton County in the State Legislature, first in the House 2001-06, then in the Senate 2007-14, then back in the House 2015-20. Hunhoff has been a longtime member of the important Joint Appropriations Committee, serving as Senate Chair in 2009-10.

Hunhoff is the first female legislator in South Dakota to serve for 20 years, a milestone reached by 41 of her male colleagues. She may extend her own record this year, as she is running for the Senate in 2020.

The Hunhoff name is well-known in Yankton, and Jean Hunhoff is not the only member of the family to serve in the State Legislature. Her brother-in-law, Bernie Hunhoff, was the 1998 Democratic nominee for governor and is the longest-serving party floor leader in the term limits era.

Here is a list of all the twenty-seven women who have served in the South Dakota State Legislature for at least ten years:

Legislator Party City Tenure Comments
Jean M. Hunhoff R Yankton 20 HR 2001-06, Sen 2007-14, HR 2015-20, Running for Senate in 2020
Mary B. Edelen R Vermillion 18 HR 1973-80, HR 1983-92
Ellen E. Bliss R Sioux Falls 16 HR 1953-68
Doris P. Miner D Gregory 16 HR 1977-78, Sen 1979-92
Phyllis M. Heineman R Sioux Falls 16 HR 1999-2008, Sen 2011-16
Julie Bartling D Burke 16 HR 2001-04, Sen 2005-10, HR 2013-18. Asst. Minority Leader, 2013-18
Mary A. McClure R Redfield 15 Sen 1975-89. First woman President Pro Tempore, 1979-89
Frances S. “Peg” Lamont R Aberdeen 14 Sen 1975-88
Debra R. Anderson R Sioux Falls 14 HR 1977-89. First woman Speaker of the House, 1987-88
Janice K. Nicolay R Sioux Falls 14 HR 1983-96
Deb Peters R Hartford 14 HR 2005-10, Sen 2011-18
Kay S. Jorgensen R Spearfish 12 HR 1979-84, HR 1993-98
Mary K. Wagner R Brookings 12 HR 1981-88, Sen 1989-92
Della Wishard R Prairie City 12 HR 1985-96
J. P. Duniphan R Rapid City 12 HR 1995-2002, Sen 2003-06
Dorothy Nepstad R Mitchell 10 HR 1969-78
Doris J. Kumm R Watertown 10 HR 1979-88
Dorothy M. Kellogg D Watertown 10 HR 1981-84, Sen 1987-92
Mary Vanderlinde D Sioux Falls 10 HR 1985-94
Pamela A. Nelson D Sioux Falls 10 HR 1987-88, Sen 1989-96
Barbara Everist R Sioux Falls 10 HR 1993-94, Sen 1995-2002. First woman Senate Majority Leader
Cheryl B. Madden R Rapid City 10 HR 1993-98, Sen 1999-2002
Margaret Gillespie D Hudson 10 HR 2001-08, Sen 2009-10
Joni M. Cutler R Sioux Falls 10 HR 2003-10, Sen 2011-12
Shantel S. Krebs R Renner 10 HR 2005-10, Sen 2011-14
Betty Olson R Prairie City 10 HR 2007-14, Sen 2015-16
Susan Wismer D Britton 10 HR 2009-14, HR 2017-18, Sen 2019-20. First woman nominated by a major party for Governor. Running for Senate in 2020.