Gil Koetzle, 1952-2013

Organized labor had a strong advocate at the state Capitol when Gil Koetzle walked the halls. He died Thursday at age 60 in his hometown of Sioux Falls. He was a Democrat and a union man and through every year I knew Gil I have to admit I didn’t know which he loved more. He served 16 years in a row in the Legislature and was the first double-term-limited lawmaker. He started in 1993 in the House of Representatives, and served the maximum of four consecutive terms in the same chamber that was allowed under the 1992 amendment to the state constitution. He moved to the Senate in 2001, serving again the maximum four consecutive terms, and retired from legislating after 2008. He was funny so much of the time, but he could be outraged — and he knew how to outrage when he felt it necessary. He was the kind of legislator who didn’t need a leadership title to be a leader among his Democratic caucus.

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About Bob Mercer

I am a newspaper reporter in Pierre where I cover state government, issues and politics for the Aberdeen American News, the Black Hills Pioneer, the Mitchell Daily Republic, the Pierre Capital Journal, the Rapid City Journal, the Watertown Public Opinion and the Yankton Press & Dakotan. I began covering the Legislature in 1985 and have lived in Pierre since December 1986. I grew up in Wisconsin, worked my way through college, took my first full-time newspapers jobs in Wyoming, and have lived in South Dakota since the summer of 1984 when I moved to Aberdeen to join the American News. I worked for the Rapid City Journal as its state government reporter in Pierre from late 1992 through late 1998. I spent four years as press secretary and a senior aide to Gov. Bill Janklow during his fourth and final term from late 1998 through 2002. I returned to journalism in January 2003 as a self-employed reporter, providing state government coverage to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre and, depending on the year, Aberdeen newspapers. In 2008, the Aberdeen American News offered to hire me as full-time member of the AAN staff, with my reports continuing to be available to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre, Yankton and Rapid City papers. The new arrangement has been in effect since January 2009 as the seven papers continue their remarkable dedication to their readers and the general public, as the only South Dakota news outlets with a full-time reporter covering state government in Pierre throughout the year. In addition to focusing on the Legislature during the annual winter session and its various activities during the interim periods between sessions, I spend many days throughout the year -- traveling as often necessary -- to cover state government boards and commissions which oversee the state universities, technical institutes, outdoors, water, environment, business, public schools, banking, agriculture, utilities, health care and various other areas of public interest. I purposely don't register to vote because of my profession; the last time I recall voting in a presidential election was the first time, 1976, when I had just turned 18. I think I voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. Make of that what you want, just don't make much of it.

6 thoughts on “Gil Koetzle, 1952-2013

  1. Troy Jones

    When I worked for Governor Mickelson is economic development, Gil wass, it seemed opposing us at every turn. Yet there were few legislators I respected more. His passion was sincere, his cause just, and his integrity impeccable. Rest in Peace. You made our world better.

  2. Bob Mercer Post author

    The post was written prior to the additional information about the search warrant and the results. The post’s contents remain true. Just as true is the bafflement about how and apparently why his life ended. I stand by the post. I stand by the bafflement. And, until some other explanation is substantiated, I stand by the absolute disgust I feel about child pornography.

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