From referee to legislator?
Editor's note: This is the third story in a series of three profiles on the Republican candidates from District 20 running for the state House of Representatives in Tuesday's primary election.
After 44 years as an official for high school and college sports, David Stevens thinks he is ready to start making a few calls off the field.
Stevens, of Mitchell, is one of three Republican candidates from District 20 running for the state House. Stevens is running against incumbent state Rep. Tona Rozum, of Mitchell, and fellow newcomer Josh Klumb in Tuesday's primary election. Former District 20 state Rep. Lance Carson reached his term limit and was unable to run for re-election.
The two Republican candidates who receive the most votes in the primary will be on the ballot in the November election, along with the only Democratic candidate, James Schorzmann. District 20 includes Davison, Aurora and Jerauld counties.
Stevens, 70, discussed his candidacy, as well as his experience as a sports official in a recent interview with The Daily Republic.
"Sometimes the fans don't always agree with you, but there is a difference between sports officiating and legislating," said Stevens, who was a football and basketball official. "I will listen to the people this time."
Stevens, who currently serves as executive director for the Mitchell United Way, has never run for political office, but said he does not have any particular agenda that would affect how he represents the residents of District 20.
"I'm running for the office because I want to serve," Stevens said. "I'm not running against anyone, but I'm running to represent."
Stevens is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a former high school teacher. He also worked for more than 30 years as a financial adviser before he retired and moved to Mitchell in 2003.
Stevens described himself as fiscally conservative and said he is in favor of legislation that helps business and agriculture. He said the he would like to help find a solution to the shortage of skilled laborers that has routinely afflicted businesses in the state in recent years.
Stevens praised an effort by Trail King to train workers locally by providing a limited number of scholarships to welding students at Mitchell Technical Institute. In exchange, those students agree to work for Trail King for a period of time after they graduate.
"They're helping subsidize students because they see a need," he said. "I think it's a wonderful, creative way to try to solve some of our needs."
The state could do more to protect farmers and ranchers, and even other businesses, from unnecessary or harmful environmental regulations, Stevens said.
"Who knows better about agriculture than our producers?" Stevens said. "I will listen to the input they might have."
Stevens said he hopes to become a legislator adept at building consensus and working out compromises.
"I think I can listen and I think I can work with the Legislature, both sides on the aisle, to come up with consensus on what should be passed and not passed."