Codington County Elected Officials
Codington County Commissioner Biographies
Brenda Hanten was born in Clear Lake and grew up on a farm near Altamont. She graduated from Clear Lake High School. She previously served as the Deuel County Register of Deeds. She has seven children and six grandchildren. Brenda is currently serving her tenth year in her third term as a Codington County Commissioner. Besides serving as Chairman of the County Commissioner Board, Brenda is serving her second year on the National Association of Counties Community, Economic and Workforce Development Policy Steering Committee, Brenda is the Secretary/Treasurer of the ICAP Board, Vice Chair of the Codington County Republican Party, Chair of the Watertown Volunteer Center Board, Chair of the First District Assn of Local Government Board, the Treasurer on the Watertown Area Transit Board, and is the Treasurer for the State board of County Commissioner Association. She is a board member on the LEPC Board, 911 Advisory Board, Planning and Zoning Board and attends the Watertown Government Affairs Board meetings. Brenda is a member of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce and Watertown Rotary Club. She also teaches CCD at Holy Rosary Church. "I am enjoying serving as your county commissioner and am honored to have been given this opportunity. Thank you for your continued support in allowing me to continue to serve as the District 5 Codington County Commissioner.”
Myron Johnson grew up on a dairy farm near White S.D. After graduating from White H.S., he served in the U.S. Navy. He received his education at LATI and SDSU. He was employed at LATI for thirty-five years as Agricultural Dept. Supervisor and Director of Business/Industry Training. He retired from LATI in July of 2008. He is married to Sue, and they have two married children and 5 grandchildren who all live in Watertown. In addition to serving as your Codington County Commissioner, completing his second four-year term, he also serves on the Board of Trustees for the South Dakota Retirement System and several boards that are associated with the Codington Co. Commission. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Codington County Commissioners.
Donald “Lee” Gabel, is in the second year of his second term as a county commissioner. As commissioner, Lee has focused on justice and public safety. He leads the effort to cost-effectively fix the problems of aging justice facilities. Notably, he led the county’s effort which added a much-needed courtroom and courthouse security checkpoint with no increase in taxes. Lee is also working with other community officials to maximize appropriate alternatives to jail. He also initiated an ongoing statewide effort to make counties less dependent on property tax to fund infrastructure projects. Recently, he has focused on finding cost-effective process improvements throughout county government. Before being elected, he retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of colonel after over 27 years of military service. He also works with the Association of Christian Conferences Teaching and Service, Lake Area Technical Institute and is assisting the U.S. Army as a consultant. Gabel holds a BA degree, two Master’s Degrees, and the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. His marriage in 1985 to his wife, Anne, established a permanent tie to Codington County. After retiring from the Army, he and his family settled in Watertown in 2012. Lee and Anne, have five children.
Harlan ‘Charlie’ Waterman was born in 1951 in Willmar Minnesota. He attended grades 1-8 in Prinsburg, Minnesota and then graduated from Clara City High School. Then he attended Anoka Vocational College and enlisted in the Minnesota Nation Guard, later transferring to the South Dakota National Guard and serving over 9 years with an honorable discharge. He married his wife Betty in 1973 and they have two children and two grandchildren. After moving to South Dakota, he worked in Mobridge at an IH dealer and farmed close to Glenham, South Dakota. He is a longtime Codington County resident and business owner of Charlie’s Pawn. He is a member of St. Martins Lutheran Church, the American Legion, and the Kampeska Coin Club. They reside in the rural Watertown-Florence area. Charlie is looking forward to listening and serving you as your District 2 County Commissioner.
Troy VanDusen is the Codington County Commissioner, representing District 4. Troy was born and raised in Sterling, Colorado. In 1989 he moved to Watertown, SD where he graduated from Watertown Senior High School in 1991. In 1996, Troy left his career as a radio broadcaster and joined the Watertown Police Department. He graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Academy in Pierre later that year. As an officer, Troy established the department's police explorer program. This program has proven to be valuable to the department with hundreds of area youth participating in the program. Many whom have gone on to their own careers in law enforcement. In 2000, VanDusen was assigned to the position of Detective until he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2002. Troy had been actively involved in patrol operations, investigations and administration. Troy retired from the Watertown Police Department in September 2019 and is now the news director at KXLG Radio. He is a 2015 graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, a degree in Law Enforcement from the Police Sciences Institute and is also a graduate of the National Institute of Justice Rural Law Enforcement Technology Institute. He is the past Board President of the Beacon Center in Watertown and a past board member of Avanti Federal Credit Union. Troy is active on the policy, budget, JDAI and CCJAC committees. Troy and his wife Carol have two daughters, Megan and Lauren.
Register of Deeds Biographies
Ann Rasmussen has been a resident of Watertown since 1971. She is a graduate of Watertown High School and also attended the University of South Dakota, the home of her birthplace. Her life has been blessed with two sons, Nathan and Jason. In July of 2009, Nathan’s life was cut short due to a tragic car accident. Ann relishes the time she gets to spend with Nathan's daughter, Sloan. Jason is currently living in Sioux Falls, working and attending Southeast Tech pursuing an LPN degree. He is a graduate of WHS and Lake Area Technical Institute. Ann began working in the Register of Deeds Office in 1996. She was appointed as acting Register of Deeds in 2005. The following year, Ann was elected to her first term. In 2010, she was elected and began serving a second term. She was elected to her third term in the Primary Election held on June 3rd, 2014. "I am honored to have been elected as your Register of Deeds, and I would like to thank everybody for their support in allowing me to continue to let my experience work for you in the Register of Deeds Office.”
District 4 House and Senate Biographies
District 4 Senator John Wiik was born in Ortonville, MN and raised in Big Stone City, SD. John spent 24 years on air as a radio broadcaster in Milbank, Fargo, ND, and 14 years in Watertown. In those years in Watertown, John met and married Chelsey Brenden of Henry, SD and the couple have two sons. In 2009, the family moved to Big Stone City to rejoin John’s Family’s Business as Parts Manager. While in Watertown, John was active in Republican Party politics and volunteered for many organizations, and is currently the Chairman of the Grant County Republican Party, and the Chairman of the Grant/Deuel Friends of NRA. John is completing his second term in the South Dakota Senate, where he serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
John Mills is a South Dakota native who lives on a farm south of Volga. John and his wife of 40 years, Joy, have two grown children who are married and have blessed them with 6 grandchildren. He is the President and owner of Mills Development Corporation, which is active with real estate developments in Brookings and Watertown (Dakota Commons). John is thankful for the opportunity to have served District 4 in the South Dakota House of Representatives the past 4 years and looks forward to continuing that service. John says “I will continue to defend the values of faith, family and freedom for as long as I am able. I thank the voters of District 4 for giving me the privilege to represent them.”
Dr. Fred Deutsch and his wife Dr. Kathleen are both retired chiropractors from Watertown. Married 38 years, God has blessed them with four daughters and six grandchildren. Fred is a former nine-year Watertown School Board Member and has served on many community and state boards, including President of the Watertown Boys and Girls Club Board, President of South Dakota Right to Life, and Watertown United Way board. Fred is running for his third term in the legislature. He currently serves on the Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee, the Education Committee, and the Health and Human Services Committee. Fred enjoys the outdoors, bicycling and gardening. He is a member of Immaculate Conception Church and in his free time especially enjoys playing with his grandchildren.
District 5 House and Senate Biographies
Hugh Bartels, District 5 Representative has lived in Watertown for 39 years and for all except one year he has been a community banker. He served 9 years on the Watertown School Board. He has been actively involved in several community activities and charities, from the Chairman of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce to Loaned Executive for United Way, Boys and Girls Club Capital Campaign, and Watertown Development Campaigns. Hugh has also been Chairman of the South Dakota Investment Council and served on both statewide banking association boards and served for seven years on national banking committees. He is active in Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer having served as Treasurer and a member of the church council. Hugh has served on the Executive Board of the Legislature, Retirement Laws, and the Government Operations and Audit Committees. He currently is a member the Appropriations Committee.
Nancy York, I am a life-long resident of Watertown. My husband, Duane, and I opened a small family business, Duane's Floor Covering, in 1971. Our son and daughter-in law joined the business in 2003. It has now become a three-generation business and includes our Grandson, Tyler. We are now located in downtown Watertown in a completely renovated historic building. I served on the Watertown City Council for 17 years, during this time, I served on the Public works committee, Safety Committee, Housing Board and the planning Commission. I served as President of the Chamber of Commerce board of directors during 1997 and1998. I also worked for Thrivent Financial for 15 years as a Fraternal team member and Event planner. In 2011, I went to work for the Watertown School District. After a lot of prayerful consideration, I decided to run for a seat in the SD Legislature. I was elected in November of 2016. I just finished serving in my first session. It has been a huge learning experience and I enjoyed it very much. I thank the voters of District 5 for giving me this opportunity."
Lee Schoenbeck and his wife Donna have been married for over 30 years and have raised four children here in Watertown. Lee is a graduate of Augustana College and USD School of law. Lee and Donna are members of Holy Name of Jesus parish. He is a member of Rotary, Ikes and many outdoors and hunting groups. Lee Schoenbeck has served four terms in the state senate, including serving as the leader of that body, and one term in the House. Lee practices trial law in northeast South Dakota. Lee is on the board of the Immaculate Conception School Foundation and is the past chairman of the Catholic Community Foundation for Eastern South Dakota.
Codington County Sheriff Biographies
Brad Howell, Codington County Sheriff is a lifelong resident of South Dakota, born and raised in Milbank. Following his graduation from the Alexandria Tech School, he began his career in law enforcement. Brad was hired by the Milbank Police department in 2002 as a police officer. In 2008, he was hired as a Deputy Sheriff for Codington County. In 2010 he was promoted to the position of Sergeant, he served in that capacity for 5 years. In 2015, Brad was promoted to Chief Deputy, and assisted with the daily operations of the Sheriff’s Office. He took office as the Codington County Sheriff on January 1st, 2017 and was elected to the Office of Sheriff in 2018. Brad serves on many local Boards and organizations, past board member on the Waverly-South Shore School Board, and Watertown Rotary and a Watertown Lions member. He also participates on the Watertown Boys and Girls Club board, LATI Advisory Board, the Northeast Tech HS advisory Board, appointed to the Council of Juvenile Services by Governor Noem and is also on the state JDAI Committee and many more. A favorite assignment is serving as a DARE instructor, to impact the youth of our community. He has instituted many new programs to the Sheriff’s Office to benefit the public, while striving to maintain fiscal responsibility and minimize taxpayer liability. “I am honored to serve the Citizens of Codington County as your Sheriff, and I am deeply committed to keeping our communities, families and property safe by providing the best, most professional law enforcement services possible at all times.” Brad also enjoys spending time with his family, wife Cheri and two daughters, Robin and Braden.