Rep. Peggy Gibson and Stephanie Rissler, with South Dakota Public Broadcasting, discuss content for the interview and film segment which will be part of the PBS program “The Makers: Women Who Make South Dakota.” In the next photo, Rep. Peggy Gibson responds to questions from Stephanie Rissler during an interview Rissler was conducting for a SDPB program which will also be used to promote a national PBS documentary airing in February. Pictured behind her is her father Jack Hyde. PHOTOS BY LOUISE VAN POLL/PLAINSMAN
HURON — On Monday, Stephanie Rissler and Kyle Mork from South Dakota Public Broadcasting were in Huron to tape an interview with Rep. Peggy Gibson.
The interview will be part of a special being put together to air as part of the national PBS “The Makers” documentary about women who have changed the nation and the world.
Gibson, the representative for district 22, is one of five women in South Dakota chosen to be interviewed by Rissler.
“The Makers: Women Who Make America” focuses on women telling their inspiring stories and will premier on PBS in late February.
In association with this program, SDPB is one of a handful of stations that has received a grant from the program producers to develop local program content to air statewide and to be used to promote the upcoming national broadcast.
“Our local program will profile ‘Makers: Women Who Make South Dakota,’” said Rissler. “This is not a history lesson but will feature contemporary women in South Dakota.”
The final segment using Gibson will be about three to four minutes long and will air during the hourlong statehouse program, plus as promotional pieces for the national series. Rissler, who has been with SDPB for more than 16 years, said she will include photographs and other documents in the final clip.
“We want photos of women out doing stuff and making a difference in their communities,” Rissler said.
For the interview, Rissler and Mork turned Jack Hyde’s room at StoneyBrook Suites into a mini-TV studio. Hyde is Gibson’s father and was included in part of the filming. When Rissler asked Gibson why she wished to be interviewed at her father’s place, Gibson responded by saying, “The needs of the elderly are important. We need to see that those who are poor and disabled and the elderly are taken care of. We owe that to our elderly.”
She went on to say that a nursing home can cost more than $10,000 per month for an elderly couple, plus the additional costs of medications, which can easily be in the thousands. “Most families can’t sustain these expenses for long,” said Gibson. “But what are we going to do? Throw them out in the snow? We have to take care of these people. They have been contributors to our society and we need to take care of them.”
During the interview, Gibson shared stories from her past, growing up with both parents working, and the influence of her grandmother who was college educated and encouraged Gibson to be independent and not dependent on any man. Gibson spoke of coming of age during the throes of the women’s movement and feeling that she was just as smart as any man.
“We worked for women’s rights,” she said. “For reproductive rights to control our own bodies. Women are smart enough to make their own decisions about their bodies. We fought for equality in the workforce. We can be a career woman and a good mother. We do have equal opportunities now without being dependent on others. Woman can do things and make a difference in the world. Absolutely, women have changed the world.”
Gibson said she returned to Huron in 1991 to marry her current husband, Dale Gibson. She explained that she began volunteering immediately to reconnect with the community, to get involved and to meet other women. She began to get involved in politics in 2006. Although she lost her first election, she received 46 percent of the vote, so she ran again in 2008 and won. She was re-elected in 2010 and again in 2012.
“Although I am a democrat, I am not a partisan person,” Gibson explained. “I represent all my constituents. I never ask a constituent their party when they call and ask for help.”
Gibson said she believes that women lawmakers are being heard. She said women are very organized, inspirational and are being taken seriously and listened to in Pierre. She said she was very discouraged with the redistricting and how it was done, saying the process should be changed so it is done by a bi-partisan group.
“There are more Independents and Democrats in the state than Republicans, but the Republicans have a super majority in Pierre,” said Gibson. “It is so one-sided that it can be discouraging, but I have several bills I will be introducing from my voters.”
Gibson said her to-do list includes making things better for her daughter and granddaughter, to work to help the environment and to improve education.
“We need to be sure a free education is equally available to everyone,” she said. “Economic development will follow a good, quality education system.”
When asked what she is most proud of, Gibson responded, “I am most proud of how I raised my daughter. I am also glad that I am able to do so much in my community and proud of my good work to move South Dakota forward.”
Gibson said when she returned to South Dakota she was shocked to see that women’s rights were being chipped away. Her advice to young women is to be true to yourself.
“Do not let your rights be eroded in any way, shape or form,” Gibson said. “We have fought so hard for these rights. Don’t let anyone take them away because you’ll never get them back.”For the complete article see the 12-20-2012 issue.
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