Chris Nelson is currently the chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. Chris was appointed Jan. 8, 2011, by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to fill a vacancy on the commission and was elected by South Dakota voters in November 2012 to continue his service for the remaining four years of the term. Chris served as the PUC’s chairman in 2012 and vice chairman in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
He is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, serving as chairman of the association’s Committee on Telecommunications. Additionally, Chris has been appointed to the NARUC Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications. He has been appointed by the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, representing the interests of NARUC.
Previously, Chris served as Secretary of State having been elected in the 2002 general election. Chris was unopposed for reelection in 2006 which was the first time the office was unopposed in the history of South Dakota.
Prior to becoming Secretary of State, Chris held the position of state election supervisor in the Secretary of State’s office for 13 years and was uniform commercial code supervisor in the same office for two years.
As Secretary of State, Chris received the 2010 Excellent Service to South Dakota County Officials award from the South Dakota County Officials Association, the 2004 Hazeltine/Taylor award from South Dakota Kids Voting, and the 2003 Excellence in South Dakota Municipal Government award from the South Dakota Municipal League. In 2005, Chris was appointed as a National Governors Association representative on the United States Election Assistance Commission Board of Advisors.
Under Chris’s leadership the secretary of state’s office was awarded the Election Center’s 2009 Professional Practices Program State Award. This annual award is given as recognition for the most outstanding election administration professional practice in the nation. The award recognizes the 2008 development and implementation of a new central election reporting system for the state.
Following graduation from White Lake High School, Chris earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science, with highest honors, from South Dakota State University in 1987.
Chris is actively involved in his church and counts agriculture and hunting as two areas of personal interest. He maintains a part-time cattle operation. Chris, his wife Penny and daughter Rebekah reside in Pierre.