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Schorzmann readies for another chance at House seat

District 20 House of Representative candidate James Schorzmann speaks during a forum last month at Mitchell Technical Institute's amphitheater. (Matt Gade / Republic)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of four candidate profiles regarding the District 20 State House of Representatives race. Profiles on the District 20 Senate race will run in Saturday's print edition of The Daily Republic.

Jim Schorzmann says he's not afraid to shoot from the hip.

"I'm always for the working guy," he said. "I always will be."

Schorzmann is running for the state House of Representatives for a third time in 2018, seeking a two-year term in District 20, which has voters in Aurora, Davison and Jerauld counties. Schorzmann, a Democrat, is one of four candidates, joined by Ione Klinger and Republicans Lance Koth and Paul Miskimins. He is the only candidate in the race who has run previously, being defeated in 2012 and 2014, and said he wasn't going to be deterred just because of the first two results.

"I'm giving them another choice," Schorzmann said. "I've talked to a ton of people and it's not just Democrats that aren't happy. A lot of Republicans aren't happy with what's going on in Pierre and I agree with them. As South Dakotans, we work hard to not lie, to not cheat. And we still have the mess we have in Pierre and we keep voting it back in."

Schorzmann, 63, is an Air Force veteran and a retired mail carrier of almost 27 years. But his view on one of his primary campaign focuses — veterans affairs — is shaped primarily around his efforts to drive the Disabled American Veterans vehicle from Mitchell to Sioux Falls, providing transportation for veterans to get to their medical appointments.

"I've always held veterans to such a high regard and they mean the world to me," he said. "You get to listen and talk and hear their problems. We need to have more veterans in Pierre because they have some skin in the game."

One emphasis would be on Veterans Choice Program, which has been troubled in allowing veterans to get the medical care they want from private providers. Schorzmann said he would like to have the state put more pressure on that program.

He would also focus on increasing support for teachers and education. He said teachers may have gotten a pay raise two years ago but insurance and other factors have washed out much of that.

"Four years ago when I ran, I said teachers should make $50,000 a year. At least," he said. "And we should still get them up to where they belong. ... When there's money being stuck into different projects in the school district, that's hard to totally understand."

If elected, Schorzmann said he would like to revisit the state's rules on pipelines, and wants to see South Dakotans get more in tax revenue from the pipeline companies.

"We can do better than what we have now," Schorzmann said. "We're not getting what we should out of those pipelines."

Schorzmann said the state government still remains far too secretive and like his fellow Democrat Klinger in the race, he cited the repeal of Initiated Measure 22 in 2017 as a reason to get in the race, saying it betrayed voters' trust. He said he won't be supporting Initiated Measure 25 on this year's ballot because he has concerns about trusting that the money will be spent the way supporters say it will be: for technical education.

"We all, as South Dakotans, are good people and we have core values that we were all raised with," he said. "But we have people that get to Pierre and things change."

Schorzmann has been married to his wife, Joanne, for 40 years. He has four children and six grandchildren. He said he had one hope for voters before Election Day.

"I would love to see —before you mark up the ballot — see who's running," Schorzmann said. "Give the people running in the race that much respect. I think regardless of who you vote for, it deserves at least that much."