Jackrabbits to run for State House

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

Three former SDSU students are running in the upcoming South Dakota State Legislature election. Jason Frerichs graduated from SDSU in 2007 and is running for a seat in District 1, Mitch Fargen graduated in May 2007 and is vying for a spot in District 8 and Travis Lape is running for a District 19 seat (Lape currently attends the University of Sioux Falls but spent his 2005-2006 here at SDSU.)

“I’ve always wanted to be more involved,” said Frerichs.

“People really want to see somebody with passion to fight for constituents and what is right,” said Lape.

“I’ve been wanting to run for a while, and this is a great opportunity,” said Fargen, who is not facing the challenge of incumbents in his race. “There is a need for change; a lot of economic development and education issues are not being brought up.”

In Frerichs’ experience, the older people are glad to see young people running and getting involved.

Lape is excited for the young and old to get together and come up with refreshing ideas.

All three of the candidates have experience of some kind, be it in student government, FFA, legislative internships or working on political campaigns for various candidates.

Fargen served as State and Local Government Chair for the Students’ Association (SA) and helped lobby for the new wellness center. He also attended Brookings City Council meetings and was a liaison with the city. “I dealt with a lot over 11 years and worked with 40 different campaigns,” he said

Lape has served as the state president of FFA and the student body president at the University of Sioux Falls.

Frerichs said the most influential campaign he helped with was Jim Peterson’s re-election campaign. Frerichs hopes to someday be in Peterson’s league, performing his duties to the fullest and serving people.

All three candidates agreed that working on others’ campaigns is a lot different than working on their own.

“It was way different when I worked for other people. It wasn’t my voice, my ideas or my name,” said Fargen.

“Now it’s all about me,” said Frerichs. He worked hard on other people’s campaigns, but now it falls on him to motivate people to get involved. He said it is different having to be concerned with the next step of fundraising and getting information about the issues out to the public.

The three candidates also have Facebook groups in support of their campaigns.

“Facebook definitely brings a new dimension to the campaign,” said Sam Nelson, a senior political science major and member of SA. Nelson said that even if the people joining the candidates’ groups do not live in the correct district to vote for them, the fact that they know someone who is running for office may increase their interest in political activity in their home district.

The key to reaching voters in this day and age is to shift more toward Facebook, blogging, MySpace and YouTube, said Chris Daugaard, president of SA. “It is absolutely crucial nowadays.”

Frerichs said Facebook is a valuable tool because of the way it can reach many people at great speeds.

“Over the course of a few days, 300-400 people joined,” said Frerichs. His core base is at SDSU, but with more employers picking up Facebook.

Lape appreciates the support of friends and others received via Facebook even if they are unable to vote. He is using Facebook as a fundraising tool as well as a way to answer voter’s questions.

The user generated content lets people learn about the candidates on a more personal level, said Daugaard.

Fargen plans to use his Facebook group for fundraising and getting organized for door-to-door canvassing, parades and other events. He also said it makes it easy for people to contact him.

The candidates suggested that students who are interested in government should jump in and get involved.

It is important to volunteer, get experience, get your name out, meet new people and listen to people’s issues and concerns, said Fargen.

According to Lape, the political science department does not require an internship for graduation, but many students would enjoy participating in the state programs if the school could set it up within the major. “It is a great opportunity to get hands on experience that you wouldn’t get in the classroom,” said Lape. “You can make connections with people that you might work with or serve with in the future.”

Frerichs suggests that students “always be visible, show up to events and activities to make connections.” He also suggests that students meet as many people as they can while in college. Frerichs said students who don’t take this chance to meet people are doing themselves a disservice.

“Anyone can volunteer for campaigns anywhere in the state,” said Nelson.

The state has opportunities for press and IT internship opportunities in Pierre, and anyone can intern for the state Democrats and Republicans, said Nelson. “No matter what your field is, if you’re interested in working for government, there are opportunities.”

The election will be held this November. More information about the candidates can be found on their Facebook pages.