Plankinton woman hopes to run for CongressLinda Heath has announced her candidacy for the seat, saying she wants to represent workers, people struggling in today’s economy and the poor.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
PLANKINTON — A Plankinton woman is seeking the Democratic nomination for the state’s sole congressional seat but admits she faces an uphill struggle just to qualify for the ballot.
Linda Heath has announced her candidacy for the seat, saying she wants to represent workers, people struggling in today’s economy and the poor.
“I want someone who is a working class person, a regular Joe, in Congress,” Heath said. “I think it is truly important we have a voice. There’s a lot of people struggling in this country, and I need to give them a voice.”
Heath, 48, said she knows the odds of her winning are long. Just getting on the June 5 primary ballot will be a chore, she admitted.
She needs to collect 1,955 signatures by March 27 and is more than 1,500 names short with a week to go. She is unsure if she will make it.
Heath is a former caseworker for the Mitchell Salvation Army, where she advocated for the homeless, hunger and other social issues. She also formerly worked for several child placement agencies.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and has completed some graduate studies at Indiana State University.
Heath grew up in Florida and moved to South Dakota 15 years ago to work at the State Training School in Plankinton. She thought it would be a career, she said, but when the school closed, she was forced to adapt.
Heath works three part-time jobs, one at the Thunderbird Lodge in Mitchell, doing night audit work.
She then walks across the street to the I-90 Travel Plaza, where she works as a weekend bookkeeper.
She also works as a convenience store clerk at the White Lake Cenex store.
Even with all three jobs, she doesn’t get 40 hours a week, she said, nor does she have benefits.
One reason she works three part-time jobs is that she is a caregiver for her “significant other,” as well as for her mother and a sister, all of whom are battling health issues.
Heath said she knows financing a campaign will be difficult and she doesn’t expect much assistance from the South Dakota Democratic Party.
She said Matt Varilek, who is running for the nomination, is the party’s choice, so she has not been in contact with party officials.
She is one of six announced candidates for Congress in South Dakota.
Varilek and Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth are seeking the Democratic nomination.
Republican Rep. Kristi Noem is seeking a second term, while two Republicans from the Black Hills, Stephanie Strong, of Rapid City, and Bill Cissell, of Sturgis, also want the GOP nomination.