Editor’s Note — This is part of a series of interviews with community members that will be offered on various perspectives over the last year dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on the Huron area community.
HURON – Representative Lynn Schneider was not involved with state politics just a year ago, but the tragic loss of his brother-in-law, Rep. Bob Glanzer, to COVID-19 led to his appointment by Governor Kristi Noem to fill out the remainder of Glanzer’s term. Schneider then won election in the fall and served in his first legislative session as a representative for District 22 this spring.
When do you recall first becoming aware personally of COVID-19 on a worldwide scale?
Lynn Schneider: I recall reading about it in the news in early February, but at the time I never connected it to happening here. Then in early March, I heard someone in Beadle County tested positive and they had just returned from a trip to Europe. Now it was starting to sink in that this might be serious.
Obviously, you had the virus affect your family in a significant way. When you personally had COVID, how were your symptoms?
Schneider: On March 21 last year, I took my brother-in-law, Bob Glanzer, to the hospital for a chest x-ray to see if he had pneumonia per his doctor’s advice because he couldn’t draw a full breath. While there he was tested for the virus and the result was positive.
Three days later, I started noticing symptoms of a tough head cold and flu-like conditions that worsened over the next couple of days. I went to be tested and was positive. I had some coughing, felt very tired, and had no appetite and a low-grade fever. After a couple more days, the symptoms began to go away and after two more weeks, I was released from quarantine. The state health department would text or call every other day to check on my symptoms. So I was fortunate to have a relatively mild form of the sickness.
During that period my brother-in-law was hospitalized, placed on a ventilator, got steadily worse, and finally, we lost him. We had to deal with this loss of a very close family member and Bob’s wife lost her niece at the same time very suddenly; also that was thought to be from the virus.
When did Gov. Noem or someone from her office first contact you regarding filling out the remainder of Bob’s term?
Schneider: On May 5, I was invited to join a Zoom call with the Lt. Gov and the Chief of Staff to discuss this possibility. After discussing the idea with former Senator Jim White, my wife, Gloria, and Bob’s wife and family — who all gave me strong encouragement to be willing to serve, I agreed to be available.
Gov. Noem called and visited with me a couple of days later, and I agreed to accept the appointment to fill the remainder of Bob’s term. I also made the decision to be willing to run for a full two-year term to the State House of Representatives.
Being thrust into the legislature in a tragic fashion as you were, what was the toughest part of your first special session and first full session serving as a representative?
Schneider: First, I had never contemplated serving in the legislature, as I was very comfortable with Bob’s four years of serving. But I felt with the encouragement from many others to do so, I wanted to honor Bob’s legacy by being available for this service.
The special session was held last October 5 for the purpose of approving a spending plan for federal CARES Act/COVID funding. The actual desk assigned to me in the House was the very seat where Bob sat. That left me with a feeling of how can I meet everyone’s expectations to properly serve District 22. Then I drew a sense of peace that maybe the Lord was placing me here.
Now, having completed the first full session of the 96th Legislature that began some ten weeks ago on January 12th; I look back on it as an amazing time of learning and meeting many new people from many different walks of life. It was a time of gaining new friendships and learning the whole legislative process. This particular session dealt with by far, a large historic amount of one-time funds that we were able to use to help our state’s citizens, from education to research, health, agriculture, and more.
It is an awesome responsibility and a special privilege to serve in the State Legislature, and I try to be my best at it every day.