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State Representative District 21 {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Description: The South Dakota State Legislature is the legislative branch of the government of South Dakota. It is a bicameral legislative body, consisting of the Senate which has 35 members, and the House of Representatives, which has 70 members. The two houses are similar in most respects; the Senate alone holds the right to confirm gubernatorial appointments to certain offices. The Legislature meets at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre. It begins its annual session of the second Tuesday of January each year. The legislative session lasts 40 working days in odd-numbered years, and 35 days working days in even numbered years. Term: 4 consecutive 2 year termsSalary: $6,000 + $142 per legislative dayRequirements for Office: 21 years old; 2 years residency; qualified voter; may not have been convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous crime; may not have illegally taken "public moneys".Petition Requirements: Depends on party and legislative district. See SD Secretary of State's website for details.

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  • Rocky Blare
    (REP)

  • Caleb Finck
    (REP)

  • Candidate picture

    Jessica Hegge
    (DEM)

Biographical Information

What will you do to support the economy throughout our state in the face of international trade conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic?

What should our state government do to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children?

What would you do for our local governments, such as counties, cities and school boards, so that they can be flexible in responding to local issues?

How do you view the initiative and referendum process in South Dakota? Are there any changes to this system that you would support?

With the redistricting process happening after the 2020 Census, how do you view the legislature’s role in this process and would you support an independent citizen redistricting commission?

What are your plans to protect voter rights such as online or same-day voter registration as well as absentee voting/voting by mail?

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The Covid-19 pandemic exposed areas for growth and diversification within our economy. The economy of South Dakota is based heavily on agriculture and the whole industry is currently struggling. One issue that has been brought to the forefront because of COVID-19 is the concentration of the meat packing industry and the negative effects it has on cattle producers. Our ranchers and farmers need to get a fair price for their products. I would support State product labeling to encourage buying our State’s agricultural products. I would also support measures to diversify our food production chain through a State loan program to small agricultural processing businesses.
Two issues preventing every child from receiving an equitable, quality public education are the resources afforded to rural schools and the incompatibility of standardized teaching models and alternative learning styles. Many students in rural communities experience limited educational resources. If they excel as students, then they have fewer options for advance classes. If they struggle with traditional teaching styles, lack of resources prevent them from succeeding.

In order to address these issues, increasing funding for education is essential. I think the state should direct funding towards providing training for evidenced based teaching methods and curriculum to encourage teachers to use proven effective methods while teaching and to develop flexibility for teaching students with different learning styles. Additionally, the state can develop programs to incentivize quality teachers to go to rural schools and increasing staff to student ratio.
No one knows an issue better than those on the ground dealing firsthand with that issue. Our local governments need flexibility and autonomy to deal with local issues in real time. I support local control for local units of government. I would also oppose State mandates without the State also supplying the appropriate support and funding required by the mandate.
South Dakota was the first state to let citizens vote directly on laws through the initiative and referendum process. I believe that the initiative and referendum process is uniquely South Dakotan and should be protected as it gives voters a path to pass legislation when their legislators refuse to act on important issues. Unfortunately, in today’s political arena this is often necessary. The initiative and referendum process has been under attack for several years. The state legislature recently passed laws making it more difficult to use this process. I do not support these restrictions, and believe we need to protect the initiative and referendum process from further erosion.
The redistricting process after the 2020 Census has important consequences for voters. It is critical to avoid partisan gerrymandering in the redistricting process. Currently, South Dakota’s state legislative lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto. Having incumbent state legislators determine the redistricting of state legislative lines is like having the fox guard the hen house. They will do what it takes to protect their own seats. This produces less competition in the political system and gives legislators less of an incentive to work on the behalf of their constituents. Because of this, I believe it is necessary to the integrity of our democracy that an independent commission be created for the purpose of redistricting.
Voting is how we make changes and hold our elected leaders accountable. We need to focus on increasing voter participation rather than voter suppression. Online voter registration and same-day voter registration are two ways to increase access to the ballot box which I support. I also support increased access to absentee voting, especially now due to COVID-19. You should not have to choose between your health and safety or exercising your voting rights. Our state is not a true democracy unless every citizen's voice is heard at the ballot box.