District 20 House: Retired mailman going door-to-door, this time in search of votesSchorzmann delivered mail in Mitchell for more than 26 years.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
James Schorzmann is going door-to-door during his campaign for a seat in the South Dakota Legislature.
That’s old hat to Schorzmann, who delivered mail in Mitchell for more than 26 years.
“That doesn’t bother me,” he said with a smile Friday as he discussed his campaign efforts. “I go to coffee places, I’ve been campaigning in all these little homecoming parades.”
Schorzmann, 57, retired from the U.S. Postal Service on Jan. 1. A few weeks later, he was called and asked if he would run as a Democrat for a District 20 state House seat. He had never sought elective office before.
After discussing it with his wife Joanne, he agreed to run, on the condition he wasn’t told what to think or say.
“I’m nobody’s puppet,” he said he told the Democratic recruiter. “You want a puppet, you got the wrong guy.”
Schorzmann and fellow Democrat Dave Mitchell are running against Republican incumbents Lance Carson and Tona Rozum. All four are from Mitchell.
District 20 includes Davison, Aurora and Jerauld counties. That’s a change, as Jerauld County was added to the district when new lines were drawn. The two candidates who receive the most votes will win two-year terms in the state House.
Schorzmann said he agreed to run because he is concerned how the state is funding and supporting education, and because he wants to be a champion for veterans.
“I saw how they cut education and how they cut the veterans and their money,” he said. “I figured I’d try to run and help those two organizations out in Pierre by sticking up for them the best I can.”
Schorzmann said he supports Initiated Measure 15, which would add 1 percent to the state sales tax, and dedicate half the money, estimated at up to $180 million a year, to K-12 education.
“What I plan to do if I get elected is to make sure that goes there, and nobody raids the pot for something else,” he said.
In his view, one of the problems in Pierre is a lack of common sense. Schorzmann said he would work for “sensible solutions” and would be willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things accomplished.
In addition to knocking on doors and asking for votes, Schorzmann is distributing fliers and has a billboard up as well. He said he will raise and spend about $4,000.
The Davison County Democratic Party is providing him about two-thirds of his money, he said, and “common people who just know me” are supplying the rest.
“All I can do is the best I can do, knocking on doors and talking to people,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do the best I can, since the reason I’m running is to do the best I can for District 20.”
Schorzmann is an Alpena native who joined the Air Force and served from 1973-77, primarily in Germany.
After leaving the service, he moved to Mitchell and attended Mitchell Vo-Tech, now Mitchell Technical Institute, where he majored in accounting.
He met his wife Joanne there; they’ve been married 34 years and have four children and one grandchild.
Schorzmann worked at Dakota Pork and Plainsco, an electrical and plumbing supply house in Mitchell before he learned of a mail clerk opening in the Alexandria Post Office in 1985. In August of that year, he transferred to the Mitchell Post Office as a city letter carrier.
During his years on the route, he became known as the “Smiling Postman,” due to his cheerful nature, and that nickname appears on his campaign literature. It’s a lesson he learned from his father, he said.
Schorzmann said he feels people know him and his character after living and working in Mitchell for more than 30 years. He hopes that can help propel him to a seat in the state House.