Because my campaign talks a lot about principles and Midwest values, it might be helpful for interested voters to know more about me and who I am. I think you’ll find that I share the same life experiences and value system of voters here.
I was born at St. Anne’s hospital (now Prairie Lakes) in Watertown in 1969. Growing up, I went to Mellette Elementary, which is also the school my kids currently attend. It makes me feel old and nostalgic, however, thinking about how much it has changed since my time there. At Watertown High School, I was particularly thankful for my experience with the high school debate program, becoming the 1987 State Champion. After graduating from Augustana College, I returned to Watertown, and met Tonya Thompson who just moved to town from Parkston, SD. We married in 1995. My wife worked for Microsoft while I pursued a career in writing, appearing regularly in South Dakota Magazine and writing a book on Codington County history called Skeletons on the Prairie. Our first child, Rachel, arrived in 2000, followed closely by a second girl, Tessa, in 2001. For about two years, I was Mr. Mom during the day and wrote at night. Then, my wife’s job was relocated to Fargo. We needed her income, but we didn’t want to leave Watertown. We struggled over that decision, but we cut our expenses and decided to stay in South Dakota. It was difficult, but it was the right decision for us. After two more kids arrived—Cate and Gabriel—my wife stayed home full time. I took on even more extra work, including going back to teaching, which I had done on and off since graduating high school.
I enjoyed serving on many boards in Watertown and volunteering at church, teaching Sunday School and Children’s Church and being on the church council at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer. I loved helping out my family’s Anza Foundation, which helped out many worthy causes in town.
For years, I was content to help Watertown behind the scenes, but I felt strongly about stepping forward to serve in a more public way. I was very honored and humbled to
be elected as the State Senator from District 5. It was an amazing experience representing my hometown of Watertown out in Pierre. Now, when considering running for re-election, I gave the issue a
lot of thought and prayer. I again thought about how much I love America, South Dakota and Watertown, and how concerned I am for the world my kids will grow up in. We face a lot of problems now,
and I still think that I can better serve my family, and my community, by continuing my public service in the South Dakota Legislature.
Thomas Jefferson described his vision of America as being run by “reluctant statesmen.” By this, he meant the country should be run by people who are very happy with their lives, their jobs and their families, and who would rather not leave that happy life but they do because they also love their country and want to help. I totally understand what Jefferson meant, because I am very much a reluctant statesman.
However, I would be honored and humbled to be re-elected as District 5’s state senator, and I would appreciate your vote. I promise to work tirelessly on behalf of
the city and state I love.