The Allure of Public Service

The Allure of Public Service

By: Dave Pfeifle, SDPAA Executive Director

The South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) has been serving local governments in South Dakota for thirty-six years. The SDPAA provides far more Member benefits than liability and property coverages by including Member focused training, loss control, and property surveys, as well as free legal guidance through its hotlines on employment practices, government practices, and election law.

Throughout its rich history, the SDPAA has been led by a Board of Directors comprised of local public servants with the vision and fortitude to navigate through any rough waters on behalf of their fellow local governments in South Dakota. I witnessed the value of the SDPAA’s uniquely tailored services while serving three SDPAA Members as their in-house attorney and while serving as SDPAA panel counsel. My admiration of the SDPAA and its outstanding leadership team led me to join the SDPAA’s internal team in November 2017.

The motivation for any of us to engage in local public service stems from a sense of duty to serve our community for the greater good. My local government recently asked me to serve again as its full-time City Attorney. I was torn between my duty to SDPAA Members as a whole and my sense of duty to my community and to my local government, which is a charter Member of the SDPAA. In weighing my decision, the most reassuring factor was the SDPAA’s internal team is a fantastic group of individuals, both professionally and personally. Lynn, Kris, Paytra, Jerry, and Becky have achieved the rare combination of high performance with high integrity in serving the local governments of South Dakota. They will continue to serve at an optimum level, whether I remain with them or not.

Another factor in my decision was the alarmingly rapid rate of resignations and retirements in our local government ranks. Dozens of unfilled local government legal positions across South Dakota are overburdening the remaining legal teams, if any, or depriving more rural local governments of vital legal resources altogether. I know from experience my local government would have difficulty in finding a City Attorney.

President John F. Kennedy once said the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. The SDPAA Board and internal team live by the sincere words of appreciation for your service which are often expressed in this column. To fill one looming local vacancy, I have decided to rejoin your ranks as a local public official. I am duty-bound to become part of the solution to the state-wide shortage of public sector lawyers. I will miss working with you and my friends and colleagues at the SDPAA! However, this is not a goodbye as I will remain active in our associations. I am happy to lend an empathetic ear to any fellow public servant. Our shared passion for local government service will make our paths cross many times.

My twenty-eight years of involvement with the SDPAA have confirmed the SDPAA is the best option for your local government. If you have any questions or would like your public entity to explore becoming a Member of the SDPAA, then please contact the SDPAA at 800-658-3633 option 2 or by email at