Frequently Asked Questions

What are County Commissioners?

County Commissioners are officials elected by the voters of the county who make up the Board of Commissioners of Pennington County. This body is considered the “governing authority” of the County. The Board of Commissioners, along with a number of other Elected Officials—known as “County Officers”—make up the framework of county government in Pennington County.

Who are the current County Commissioners?

The Board of County Commissioners for 2024 are:

Commissioner Ron Rossknecht, District 1 (Vice-Chair)
Commissioner Lloyd LaCroix, District 2 (Chair)
Commissioner Deb Hadcock, District 3
Commissioner Travis Lasseter, District 4
Commissioner Gary Drewes, District 5

Who are these other “County Officers”?

In Pennington County, the list of County Officers or Elected Officials includes the five-member Board of Commissioners, the Sheriff, the Auditor, the Register of Deeds, the Treasurer, and the States Attorney.

What do County Commissioners do?

As established by the South Dakota Constitution and the South Dakota Codified Laws, the Board of County Commissioners in this State, including Pennington County, are charged with the responsibility of providing a system of local government services designed to “protect the health, safety, and welfare” of their citizens. The Board of Commissioners is empowered to make policy and pass laws, if necessary, in order to meet their responsibilities.

County Commissioners also have a key role in a wide variety of community issues by serving on various boards and committees, which affect citizens within and beyond their jurisdictions. County Commissioners serve on a variety of boards, state boards, and/or national committees, with other public officials and private citizens.

What sort of services are provided by our County Government?

Pennington County provides typical local government services. Examples of such services include but are not limited to: Public Safety (Sheriff’s Department), Fire and Emergency Services, Planning and Land Use Regulations, and other Administrative Services such as Property Assessments, Tax Collections and Records Retention for documents such as deeds, mortgages, liens, etc.

Who can be a County Commissioner?

There are no specific qualifications for a County Commissioner except a County Commissioner candidate, whether running for a district position or at large, must sign the declaration of candidacy on the nominating petition that they reside in the district or the county (at large candidates).

How many County Commissioners does Pennington County have and do they represent certain areas of the county?

Pennington County has five County Commissioners. The County is divided into five County Commission Districts each containing approximately 22,000 people (based on the 2020 Census count). Each District is required to have one Commissioner on the Board of Commissioners who resides within that District. Registered voters are limited to voting only to fill the positions of the Commissioners living in the same district in which the voters resides. The voter will only have a Commissioner on their ballot when the Commission term is up for the election in the voter’s District. Although elected by Districts, all Commissioners will work together as a Board to represent all of Pennington County.

How are County Commissioners elected and how long can a Commissioner serve in office?

County Commissioners are elected by the voters of Pennington County and serve four (4) year terms. Commissioners in our county are not limited in the number of terms they can serve. The terms are staggered to eliminate the possibility that all five County Commissioners would be new in office at the same time. Three Commissioners are elected at one time, and the remaining two Commissioners are elected two years later during a different election.

Is the position of County Commissioner in Pennington County a full-time job?

No. County Commissioners in our county are not full-time employees. County Commissioners are typical Pennington County citizens who have other professions as a livelihood and perform their duties as elected officials on a part-time basis. In growing counties such as Pennington, the number of hours each week that County Commissioners devote to their official roles can be quite significant reaching more than a full-time job would require. They manage their Commission responsibilities through a series of bi-monthly meetings, individual interaction with citizens, special assignments, and through the Commission Office which is staffed with full-time, highly-trained individuals prepared to assist the public with issues related to the responsibilities of the Board of Commissioners. 

Are County Commissioners paid?

Yes. In Pennington County, each member of the Board of Commissioners is paid $1,164.80 bi-weekly or $30,284.80 per year (2024 rate). They may also elect to participate in the health care benefits offered including health, vision and dental. They do not receive retirement benefits. They are also paid for the mileage traveled in performance of their duties unless they choose to waive this payment.

How is the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board of Commissioners selected?

In Pennington County, the Chair and Vice Chair are selected by the Board itself every January at the first meeting of the year.

Does the Board of Commissioners meet regularly or only when there is county business to conduct?

In a large county such as Pennington, there is always an immense amount of county business that must be done. The Board of Commissioners typically meets twice a month—normally on the first and third Tuesdays of each month starting at 9:00 a.m. The meetings are organized by use of a formal agenda and are conducted by using Roberts Rules of Order that are designed to make meetings as efficient as possible. Meetings consist of such matters as adopting or amending laws and policies, acting on the financial matters of the county, dealing with requests from the general public, acting on issues related to various county departments and services, or holding public hearings on such issues as rezoning requests, the annual budget, ordinance adoption or modification, and major road or bridge projects.

Are meetings of the Board of Commissioners open to the public?

Yes. With minor exceptions, all meetings are open to the public and are also attended by various members of the media. Official minutes and other records relating to actions of the Board of Commissioners are maintained and are open to the public. There are three issues that South Dakota Codified Law § 1-25-2 allows the Board to discuss in a meeting not open to the public. Those are: (1) Discussing the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee; (3) Consulting with legal counsel or reviewing communications from legal counsel about proposed or pending litigation or contractual matters and (6) Discussing information pertaining to the protection of public or private property and any person on or within public or private property specific to: (a) Any vulnerability assessment or response plan intended to prevent or mitigate criminal acts; (b) Emergency management or response; (c) Public safety information that would create a substantial likelihood of endangering public safety or property, if disclosed; (d) Cyber security plans, computer, communications network schema, passwords, or user identification names; (e) Guard schedules; (f) Lock combinations; (g) Any blueprint, building plan, or infrastructure record regarding any building or facility that would expose or create vulnerability through disclosure of the location, configuration, or security of critical systems of the building or facility; and (h) Any emergency or disaster response plans or protocols, safety or security audits or reviews, or lists of emergency or disaster response personnel or material; any location or listing of weapons or ammunition; nuclear, chemical, or biological agents; or other military or law enforcement equipment or personnel.

These issues are allowed to be dealt with other than in an open public meeting in order to ensure the privacy of citizens or specified employees or to protect confidential information if necessary. However, any official action concerning the matters pursuant to this section shall be made at an open official meeting. An executive or closed meeting must be held only upon a majority vote of the members of the public body present and voting, and discussion during the closed meeting is restricted to the purpose specified in the closure motion.

Are the Board of Commissioners Meetings televised?

No. However, the meetings are live streamed on YouTube. To locate the County’s channel, search for Pennington County, SD.

Is the public allowed to speak at Commission Meetings?

Pennington County has a rich history of encouraging and allowing public interaction on important issues being considered by the Board of Commissioners. South Dakota State law requires a period for public comment at every official meeting, limited at the Board’s discretion as to the time allowed for each topic.

Pennington County utilizes a speaker request form for the public comment period. The public comment period is a time for the members of the public to discuss or express concerns to the Board of Commissioners on policies and issues affecting County government and its function. Action will not be taken during this item on any issues brought forth that are not properly noticed. Speakers under public comment will be recorded in the minutes by name and area of interest.

Can a member of the public record a Commission Meeting?

Yes. The Board of Commissioners may not prevent a person from recording, through audio or video technology, an official meeting as long as the recording is reasonable, obvious, and not disruptive. This does not apply to meetings closed to the public.

If a citizen has a problem with a county service, department, or employee, should he/she contact a County Commissioner?

First, any time you do not know who can help with a problem, call the County Commission Office at (605) 394-2171. If you have a problem and you do know which county department can help you, it is advisable to first contact the person in charge of that department. If it is not possible for any reason to resolve a problem in that manner, then it is recommended that the County Commission Office be contacted. The Commission Office staff can try to assist with the issue or refer it to the best person possible to assist in finding a solution. If, however, you are not satisfied with the outcome of the issue, feel free to contact and discuss the matter with any of the Members of the Board of Commissioners. The Commissioners contact information can be found on the County webpage or by calling the Commission Office at (605) 394-2171.

How can I express my concerns on an issue to the Board of County Commissioners?

There are a number of ways to express your concerns on an issue. The most effective way is to email This email address goes to the Commission Office Staff and all County Commissioners.

You may also address the Board of Commissioners during a public meeting under an agenda item called “Items from the Public”. A speaker request form is required and may be found in the Commission Chambers, the Commission Office or on the County’s website. Please complete the form and give it to the Commission Manager. The Chair of the Board will call on you when the Board is ready to receive public comments.

Who is my Commissioner?

Pennington County is split into five districts, with each district having a Commissioner. To find out who the Commissioner is for your district, visit the Board of County Commissioners webpage.

How do I contact my Commissioner?

Please visit the Board of Commissioners webpage to find your Commissioner's contact information.  

Does the Board of Commissioners have jurisdiction over all government matters in all of Pennington County?

No. Government services are provided to the citizens of Pennington County by a complex network of city, county, state, and federal agencies. It is usually not difficult to distinguish federal government services, and, typically, state services are fairly easy to separate from county and city services. However, it is often not clear to citizens whether local government (county or city) services are provided by one of Pennington’s many municipalities or by the county—and rightfully so.

In many instances, the Board of Commissioners only has jurisdiction over matters concerning citizens and property located in the unincorporated areas of Pennington County.  For example, the rezoning of property inside any one of the municipalities is handled solely by its Mayor and Council, with the Board of Commissioners having no involvement in the process.  Another example is that of annual operating budgets. The Board of Commissioners adopts an annual budget to fund county services, but has no involvement in the adoption of any budget of any municipality. That being said, however, County Government does provide many services to all citizens of the county, including those living inside its municipalities.

To complicate matters even further, several county departments are headed by other Elected Officials. These Elected Officials manage their own departments. The Board of Commissioners are, however, obligated by law to provide sufficient funds to each of these officials to adequately carry out the duties of his/her department.

Does the County Government provide services to citizens living within municipalities?

Yes. There are many services that the County Government does provide for all citizens of the county. To name a few, the list includes jail and detention services, public safety and emergency services, tax assessment and collection for all taxing entities, and other services including elections and vehicle registrations and renewals. 

Thank you for your interest in your County Government!

Additional information concerning the duties and responsibilities of County Commissioners can be obtained by contacting the County Commission Office at (605) 394-2171 or by emailing