Congressional debate:

Darcie Walkes

Darcie Walkes

Five South Dakota Republican candidates shared their viewpoints on issues such as the peace process in the Middle East, education, the state’s water problems, the importance of ethanol and Indian Health Services in the congressional debate, April 23 at the South Dakota Art Museum.

The opponents, Tim Amdahl, Roger Hunt, Bill Janklow, Larry Pressler and Bert Tollefson discussed their views in the debate mediated by Don Jorgensen, of KELO TV, with panelists DeAnn Tiede of KELO TV and Emily Babcock of South Dakota Public Radio. SDSU’s Students’ Association hosted the debate.

Amdahl, an agri-businessman from Salem, is a former Commissioner of School and Public Lands. Campaigning for Amdahl has involved visiting 232 communities in 130 days. Amdahl believes that education problems in South Dakota should be mended at the local and parental level. He also views religion as a vital role in the schools.

“We need to be able to have prayer in school. We need to be able to use the name of God,” Amdahl said.

Pressler, a 22-year Congress member and former Lieutenant of the U.S. Army, said he is “uniquely qualified.” He hopes to build seniority by staying as committee chairman, forming a “power base in the house.”

“I will take my past seniority back to the House. I am the only candidate who has pledged not to run for the U.S. Senate.”

Hunt was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1991 and was reelected four times. Hunt is a 22-year member of the U.S. Navy. He said he believes South Dakota has a rising need to lower medical costs and insurance premiums and limit federal government control.

“We have seniors who have to decided between eating a meal or buying pharmaceuticals,” Hunt said.

South Dakota’s Governor and former Attorney General, Janklow, noted his three primary qualities?the ability to negotiate, legislate and fight for South Dakotans. Janklow stressed the importance of teamwork to fight for South Dakota, as 435 people are in the House of Representatives, with South Dakota having just one voice to represent the entire state.

Janklow shared his plans to speak, advocate and fight to represent the people of South Dakota. “I’ve got fire in my belly for representing people,” said Janklow

Tollefson, a former National Guard member and Intelligence Officer, advocates the production of Corn-Soy Milk and supports mandating ethanol

“We’ve got to do something to be more energy self-sufficient,” said Tellofson.

Amdahl, Pressler, and Janklow also see the importance in an ethanol mandate.

“The use of Ethanol is just a win-win situation,” said Amdahl.

“This is one great environmental contribution that our state can make to cleaner air in our country,” said Pressler.

“[Ethanol] raised the economic aspect for ag., including the farmers and small town people and the citizens of South Dakota and America,” said Janklow.

Hunt noted the importance of mandating ethanol so producers in South Dakota could benefit from wider marketing of agricultural products.

The candidates voiced their opinions of major water issues in South Dakota, involving the pipe line to Sioux Falls, the Missouri River, the tourism and sports industry and providing quality drinking water to all South Dakotans.

The topic of Native American health care was also discussed in the debate. Pressler, a previous teacher at two Native American colleges, said, “Indian Health needs an overhaul.”

Hunt agreed and stressed the importance that Native Americans be educated about their rights.

Janklow compared some health problems on the reservation to that of an epidemic. He feels that more Native Americans would benefit with more involvement in the system.

Tollefson believes a problem lies within the Indian Bureau. “It needs to get straightened out,” he said.

Amdahl sees alcoholism and diabetes as a growing problem on the reservation. By making health care affordable, teaching people methods of prevention and cooperation among communities, he foresees improvement.