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District 20 state House race: Three vying for two seats representing Aurora, Davison

Lance Carson

Rep. Lance Carson, R-Mitchell, has spent two terms serving in the state House of Representatives.

He says he's ready for a third.

The only incumbent in a three-candidate race for two House seats, Carson said he's ready to face some familiar problems in Pierre, including balancing the budget and funding education.

He's proud of his previous work on the former. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Carson is pleased that the Legislature was able to balance the state budget without using any reserves or raising sales tax.

"We came away with a budget that we could all live with," Carson said.

If re-elected, Carson believes he would once again serve on the committee and help solve some of the state's budget issues.

"I think I have an insight on the budget process that maybe a lot of people would not have," Carson said. "I understand the process of getting to the final budget."

The two-term representative, former Mitchell business owner and Vietnam veteran expects education funding to be a concern for many residents and legislators. In the last session, legislators did not approve a 3 percent funding increase.

In Carson's mind, that refusal can't happen again.

"We're going to have to look long and hard to help education along the way," Carson said. "I don't think it can stand another cut."

Carson said he also plans to head to Pierre with goals of increasing economic development throughout the state.

As the only District 20 House candidate to seek reelection, Carson said he's pleased with the two-year terms, as they help him to reconnect with constituents he might not otherwise hear from during the non-election years. District 20 includes Davison and Aurora counties.

"It makes you go out and meet the people again," Carson said. "I think it's a very good thing."

Becky Haslam

Becky Haslam believes that the children truly are the future.

That's why, if elected, the sole non-Republican candidate from District 20 for the House of Representatives said her first priority will be to strengthen education in South Dakota by giving teachers "the funding they need." She's running as an independent in the three-way race for two seats.

"If you want to keep the kids in South Dakota, I feel the best way to do it is start with education," said Haslam, of Mitchell. District 20 includes Davison and Aurora counties.

Strengthening education may lead young people to stay in South Dakota instead of moving on to more potentially lucrative areas. If they stay, they may open small businesses that could help strengthen local communities, Haslam said.

After high school graduation, Haslam briefly attended college before spending three years enlisted in the United States Army and five in the National Guard. It was there that she met her husband.

Haslam then obtained a political science degree from the University of South Dakota.

While in Vermillion, she assisted influential political science professor William "Doc" Farber, who recommended that she seek political office.

"He really planted the seed in my mind," Haslam said.

Haslam believes she possess problem-solving skills that will make her an ideal representative.

"I'm going to try to be the representative that the people can come to," Haslam said. "I was always the person that could figure out what was going on or find the answers."

Her military experience has also left her with a strong concern for veterans, she said. While at USD, Haslam said she was part of a group that tried to start a veteran resources center. She also met with other military families, exchanging stories and arranging for free child care for veterans.

"Military families and the military personnel are important," Haslam said.

Tona Rozum

If elected, Tona Rozum isn't going to Pierre with an agenda of further regulation, she said.

"I think we have enough laws and regulations," Rozum said. "I would rather see fewer than more."

Rozum's pursuit of a District 20 House of Representatives seat is fueled by a desire to improve free enterprise in the state and keep small communities alive, including their schools, she said. District 20 includes Davison and Aurora counties, and the top two vote-getters in the threeway race will win the district's two House seats.

The former teacher likes the idea of removing the rule that states a school must have a minimum number of students to receive state aid

"The small communities are the heart and soul of what we are in South Dakota," Rozum said. "We need to make sure that they would survive."

The Republican of Mitchell has spent almost 20 years as a local financial adviser. She also owned a business in Mitchell for 25 years.

She has also worked with the South Dakota Department of Transportation, South Dakota Community Foundation, Dakota Wesleyan University Board of Trustees, Dakota Discovery Museum, Avera Queen of Peace and other organizations.

"I've got a lot of notches in my belt," Rozum said.

As a former business owner, Rozum said she's keenly aware of how important new business is to the state.

Her experience in meeting a payroll means she understands fiscal responsibility, she said.

"I think we need to remember that free enterprise, capitalism and just pure guts have gotten us where we are, and we don't need to hinder that," Rozum said.

Although she has ideas of things she'd like to work on if elected, Rozum maintains that she would be a representative of the people.

Already, Rozum said she has heard concerns about other issues, including texting while driving and taking care of veterans.

"My job is to listen to what people have to say," Rozum said.

"It will be a learning process."