PIERRE, SD – Three hopefuls for South Dakota’s United States Senate seat answered questions about economic development, taxation and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) last week.
Democrat Rick Weiland, along with Republicans Dr. Annette Bosworth and Stace Nelson, are all candidates for the seat currently held by retiring Senator Tim Johnson. All three were on hand to greet several tribal members and answer questions at a forum sponsored by the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance (SDIBA).
Former SD Governor M. Michael Rounds along with Larry Rhoden, also candidates for the US Senate seat, did not attend the forum. The forum was held in conjunction with a SDIBA policy meeting.
“The same folks that were missing last night are missing today,” stated Stace Nelson, who currently serves as State Representative from District 19. He was referring to a forum held at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, SD on November 21, which both Rounds and Rhoden did not attend.
“More taxes are a problem for all of us,” stated Nelson in response to a question about the complex taxation issues residents of Indian reservations face. “When I take your money, I take your freedom.”
Weiland stated he will seek “a seat on the Indian Affairs Committee” if elected to Senate. He believes this will allow him to help South Dakota’s Indian tribes be better served in times of disaster, such as blizzards or flooding on reservations. “The Sandy Relief Act is legislation which allows tribal governments to go directly to the federal government with requests for disaster assistance,” he said.
In response to a question about ICWA, Dr. Bosworth stated “the mental, emotional and physical health of children goes back to how and where they were raised.” She is a Physician who has provided counseling to many tribal children in South Dakota. “The worst day in the memory of many Indian children is the day they are separated from family,” she said. “It is valuable to keep Indian children with their own culture and family.”
Kevin Killer, State Representative from District 27, and Ryan Maher, State Senator from District 28, were also in attendance. Both gave a preview of their plans for the 2014 South Dakota State Legislature, which will begin on January 14, 2013 at the State Capitol.
Killer will focus on dental health of children, ICWA, tribal college funding and Indian artists as entrepreneurs on the reservation during the 2014 Legislature.
Maher will focus on access to financial capital, literacy and domestic violence initiatives.
The day ended with several roundtable discussions led by SDIBA officers.