District 21 House candidates respond to questionnaireThe District 21 state House race includes Gary Coleman, D-Dante; Julie Bartling, D-Burke; Dave Scott, R-Geddes; and Lee Qualm, R-Platte.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
The District 21 state House race includes Gary Coleman, D-Dante; Julie Bartling, D-Burke; Dave Scott, R-Geddes; and Lee Qualm, R-Platte.
District 21 consists of Tripp, Gregory, Charles Mix and a portion of Bon Homme counties. The top two vote-getters will win the district’s two House seats.
Following are the candidates’ responses to a questionnaire from The Daily Republic. They were allowed to write up to 250 words per response.
The election is Nov. 6.
What personal qualities and/or experiences make you a good choice for election to the Legislature?
COLEMAN: I value honesty and dedication to whatever endeavor I undertake. I am a retired teacher. I have held leadership positions in my profession, church, community and the southeast South Dakota region. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Yankton Concert Association and the Sioux Falls Regional VA Telehealth Committee.
BARTLING: As a lifelong resident of District 21, I have always been involved in agriculture and small businesses. These two areas are of great importance to the entire district. I also served as the Gregory County auditor for 18 years; therefore, I understand the relevant needs of all local governments. I believe my personal experiences will be beneficial in representation of the district’s needs. I will also fall back on my five-term legislative experience (2001 through 2010) to work on the issues of importance to District 21. While serving in the House and Senate, my appointments on House Education and House/Senate Appropriations will provide extremely valuable experience in legislating for the needs of our district’s residents.
SCOTT: I have had one year of experience in the South Dakota Legislature for the 2012 session. My appointment was due to the resignation of Cooper Garnos and subsequent appointment of the then Rep. Kent Junke in District 21 to the Senate.
I served on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the Commerce Committee for the 2012 session.
I have past experience by serving six years on the SD State Highway Commission, one year as chairman. I have served for over 25 years as a township clerk. I presently serve on the South Dakota Association of Towns and Township Board of Directors and I am a director on the Board of the Geddes Industrial Development Corporation.
I believe the experience I gained last year by serving the people of District 21 has given me an advantage in going into the new legislative session with experience and knowledge of the legislative process that can only be learned by firsthand experience.
QUALM: I bring to this position common sense, a great work ethic, proven leadership and a desire to be a voice for the people of my district. I am a fourth-generation farmer who has been a leader in the area’s farming community. I have served on a variety of local and state organizations and boards.
As one of the founding board members of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, my fellow board members and I were instrumental in the promotion and development of ethanol production and use in South Dakota. I believe in the importance of small business development in our communities. My wife and I owned and operated a successful all-season lodge for over 10 years. Volunteering and serving is something I take seriously. I desire to serve this district and state by serving you. Please explain your stances on a few issues that you believe are most important to your race.
COLEMAN: Education and Economic Development. We already have created some incentives for business and services to come to our state: business friendly taxes and a population of employees with a great work ethic. What’s missing is a quality 21st century educational system. State government has systematically disassembled our educational structure. By cutting funding to draconian levels, we have created abnormally large class sizes, reduced necessary curriculum, and now have a severely underpaid and overworked teaching core who will likely “walk out” of their jobs en masse if things don’t change for the better. As a result of this lack of support, our K-12 and college students will be getting a second-class education. Also, college level research, which is vital to our agriculture and other business economy, is being defunded. In addition to threatening our students’ future, good business people will not likely look favorably to a state that doesn’t have a skilled workforce or a business climate that is technologically forward looking.
The fact is, education drives an economy.
BARTLING: Several issues are prominent in discussions as the campaigns for District 21 House have progressed. Education funding is the most important one that has brought about significant discussions. I believe that the state’s obligation to adequately fund education through the state aid formula has fallen desperately short. Thus, the people of South Dakota will find Initiated Measure 15 on the ballot, which will implement a 1-cent sales tax to be shared equally between education funding and Medicaid funding. Regardless of the outcome of IM 15, the Legislature and the executive branch must fulfill their obligations to fund education.
Another issue that has been discussed is the valuing of real property based upon production. I believe in and voted for the change in the method of valuing agriculture land, but the legislation needs further work to encompass all aspects of valuing methods, including land usage, soil types and rental prices. Enhancements to the process will ensure adequate and fair property values throughout each county.
SCOTT: Education is, of course, one of the top concerns. This would include teacher pay, adequate facilities and equipment, including new technology. There will soon be a shortage of teachers in subjects such as math, science and other areas.
Recent graduation statistics show that South Dakota colleges in 2011 graduated 19 math majors, 12 biology majors, one chemistry major, one earth science major and no physics majors.
South Dakota currently has a shortage of workers in welding, machining, accounting, rural health care and engineering. The State of South Dakota needs to provide adequate training in these areas. This will provide job opportunities with the effect of growing our communities as well as the state economy.
QUALM: I believe the top issue facing South Dakota and District 21 is the economy. Due to the widespread drought of this past year, there is a great potential to have many areas of this state and district financially affected. It becomes a ripple affect starting with the loss of income in the ag sector, which affects the purchases of equipment, vehicles and supplies, which affects sales tax and revenue, which affects our schools and medical facilities and down the line. It will take some creative budgeting and fiscal planning to ensure budgets are met and programs are funded.
What is your vision for the future of your legislative district?
COLEMAN: I would like to see the people of the 21st District well educated with the opportunity to live their lives economically secure and happy with the lives they live.
BARTLING: District 21 is a very diverse district composed of Charles Mix, Gregory, Tripp and the western edge of Bon Homme counties. The district shares the west and east shore of the Missouri River which provides revenue through recreation and fishing/hunting activities. The river is also a source of community drinking water and irrigation needs for some. Enhancement of the river’s qualities will greatly benefit District 21.
District 21 is also home to many small school districts. Each of these districts offers exceptional education for our young people with quality teachers and programs providing the instruction necessary for individual student growth. Our local districts are the hub of each community and our students are the future of District 21. Supporting each district’s needs will guarantee onward and upward growth of the communities in the district.
SCOTT: I hope to be a strong voice for the people of District 21 in Pierre. We need to keep our transportation system strong by improving our roads and keeping them in the best possible condition. I also hope to be able to keep our taxes low as to not put a burden on taxpayers.
The future of District 21 and, moreover, the entire state of South Dakota, will be determined by a return to a more normal rainfall pattern. The drought of 2012 is having a negative effect on rural South Dakota and will be felt by the entire population.
There may be a slowing of the economy as individuals become more cautious in their spending. This would mean a reduction in revenue for the state and have a negative effect on the budget.
Hopefully the state’s largest industry, agriculture, will again become the thriving force in South Dakota that it was before the drought.
I would hope that we will continue to entice new business to South Dakota and existing ones will expand. This will provide quality opportunities for employment. This would help to keep our unemployment rate low and, hopefully, fewer people would need to seek government assistance to support their families.
QUALM: I believe one of our greatest resources is our children and the young adults of this district. I believe we cannot limit ourselves in any way. We need to be focused in finding ways to keep our young adults in the area by promoting entrepreneurship, working to keep the ag sector strong, assisting in the development and promotion of small business, plus encouraging high tech and renewable energy resource manufacturing.
There are many young “movers and shakers” in our district that will take these communities forward in new ways we may have never thought of in the past.