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Miskimins seeks to serve in Legislature

District 20 House of Representative candidate Paul Miskimins 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.

In his own words, Paul Miskimins has made his entire life's work about serving others.

He's hoping he can take that philosophy to Pierre to serve in the state House of Representatives.

Miskimins, 65, said he's called the opportunity to run for elected office to be nothing but a positive experience. He's worked for nearly 40 years as a dentist in the Mitchell area.

"It's been wonderful," he said. "I've met a lot of good people and I'm proud to be a South Dakotan, which has been home my whole life. ... I have enough energy and interest and I feel I can make a difference in the long run."

A Republican from Mitchell, Miskimins is joined in the race by Republican Lance Koth and Democrats Jim Schorzmann and Ione Klinger. The top-two vote-getters will earn two-year terms in a race without an incumbent. District 20 includes Aurora, Davison and Jerauld counties.

Miskimins said he takes a lot of pride in his dentistry career and draws some comparisons between that and a potential political career.

"My entire career was based on service to others," he said. "The whole success of the business went beyond Paul Miskimins. It's about caring for their futures, and letting patients choose the road that made the most sense for them. They knew what the options are and I respect the patients enough to let them make informed decisions."

Miskimins said he believes there's good people in the legislature and in the state government departments and doesn't believe there's rampant corruption.

"I don't think think a lot of that is justified," Miskimins said. "It's been promoted and been part of the driving force behind many of the corruption claims that are out there. EB-5 and Gear Up were terrible tragedies and the wheels of justice create time for questioning about what's been going on."

On the issues, Miskimins said he feels particularly strong about the issues with drugs and methamphetamine in South Dakota. He said he's gotten to know the issue better through his brother, Davison County State's Attorney Jim Miskimins.

"They're concerns to our present and to our future," Paul Miskimins said. "We know they're here and every day, new, more dangerous drugs get closer. The problems won't be solved just by government and it's better to get everyone to the table and develop a comprehensive plan with buy-in from everyone."

Miskimins said taking on one addiction case is a big challenge, let alone the thousands of South Dakotans who are battling personal issues.

"How do we deal with this on the magnitude it requires? Do we need a meth prison?" Miskimins asked rhetorically. "If we don't make some of those investments into programs, without help, (those people) are gone."

Miskimins, who grew up in Kimball, said his conservative beliefs were built through his parents, whom he said were part of the "builder generation." He said he took pride in visiting every community in the district door-to-door.

"I said I was going to work for it and regardless of the outcome, I will be able to hold my head up high," he said. "If I hadn't done the work and got defeated, I would have some regrets."

Miskimins said he thought he would make a good choice to serve on the health-related committees in the Legislature, but would also like to serve on the education committee. He said he would like to see the state do what it can to rein in student loan debt and to keep more of the state's best and brightest students in South Dakota.

Miskimins is married to his wife, Ellen, and has three children and 11 grandchildren, and says the latter is among the important reasons he's in the campaign.

"They're the bottom line of why I chose to run," he said of his grandchildren. "They're worth having a say for."

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