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Gibson: Voters tuned in to issues

Posted: Saturday, Nov 3rd, 2012

Peggy Gibson

HURON — With the election just four days away now, people Peggy Gibson meets at their front doors are paying attention.

They are engaged on the issues, especially the future of K-12 education in South Dakota.

“And almost everybody that I’ve talked to either said, ‘I’ve voted or I’m going to vote,’” the District 22 House member seeking a third term said Thursday.

“We’re not seeing a lot of apathy in our district,” Gibson said. “That is a good, positive thing.”

At the final Beadle County Democratic Party campaign luncheon before the Tuesday general election, she said she and fellow House candidate Dale Hargens and Senate candidate Chris Studer have met constituents from Wessington to Arlington.

District 22, after redistricting, now encompasses all of Beadle and Kingsbury counties.

Gibson said folks have been talking about what their concerns are for the Legislature and how they want us to conduct business.

“First and foremost what is on everyone’s mind is the education issue,” she said.

Voters are talking about Referred Law 16, the ballot issue that emerged after legislators passed HB 1234 last session. It would, among other things, create merit bonuses for the top teachers in each district, eliminate tenure by 2016 and establish scholarships for students who commit to teaching in critical need subject areas.

Gibson said voters have asked her what is going to happen to the public school system, how jobs can be created that can pay a living wage and how South Dakota will move forward.

“All of those types of things are important to our constituents,” she said.

She said she and other Democratic candidates haven’t been tied to national politics in the campaign.

“I’ve gotten very few comments about President Obama and how he’s conducting business, so I feel that we’re concentrating on South Dakota politics and what happens here at home,” she said.

Gibson said she has successfully passed a number of bills, some of them generated by constituent concerns, in her first two terms in the House.

She serves on the House Judiciary and State Affairs committees, but has also been appointed to interim committees and task forces studying Medicaid reimbursement, impaired driving and teen driving. She and others on the sex offender registry committee revised the registry to comply with federal rules and keep $1 million a year coming to the state, with funds going to law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Gibson said she opposes term limits in the Legislature because it means a loss of institutional knowledge. Members serve a maximum of eight years in one chamber before they are term limited, although they can run for the other chamber.

She thinks term limits may be appropriate on the federal level, but not with legislative positions because she sees it as a detriment.

Financial reasons are keeping a number of qualified people from considering a run for the Legislature because they can’t be away from their jobs for two and a half months out of the year, she said.

“There are a limited number of people that can serve,” Gibson said.

As she looks forward to a return to Pierre, she said she would like to see more of a two-party system because a government run by a dominant majority is not healthy.

She also said compromise should be part of the mix in Pierre politics.

“We have to do it in our daily lives, we have to do it in our workplace,” she said. “We should have to do it in state government as well.”

Gibson said she takes her legislative role — here at home and in Pierre each winter — very seriously.

“I try to do the best job that I can,” she said. “I’m very dedicated to making South Dakota better.”

For the complete article see the 11-02-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-02-2012 paper.

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