South Dakota to elect new governor, lt. governor on November 8

​​This November, South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem is running against Democratic candidate Jamie Smith and Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint. The Mirror interviewed Smith about his campaign focus in October. The Mirror staff attempted to contact Noem multiple times for an interview, but she was unavailable for comment. Noem’s answers were taken from her website, gubernatorial debates, television appearances and a letter to the President. Information for Quint was taken from her website.

Jamie Smith

What is your position on the legalization of cannabis?

“I was for medical, and that has been a very slow rollout. We need to do better. We need to do better because there are people whose quality of life depends on it. I know some people with seizure disorders and sick children and things like that. And you can say, ‘Oh, well there’s other forms that they can get of those cannabis products.’ Those other forms are extremely expensive, and they don’t do the same thing that the natural product does.” 

What is your position on Medicaid expansion?

“When we look at healthcare, we have to pay for Medicaid expansion. Thousands of South Dakotans don’t have access right now. I pray that that passes. I think it will, and we need to implement that and make sure that those thousands of people have access to primary care.”

If elected, what are your first goals for the state?

“The goals are to make sure that by the time we’re done that South Dakota is a better state than it was when I entered: that more people know about South Dakota as a welcoming place, not just for some people, but for all people, and to make sure that people’s lives are better, making sure that the economy’s strong, making sure that there’s a good education system in place for our children, making sure there are good jobs here in the state of South Dakota for students to stay here.”

What is your position on student debt?

“South Dakota students have more debt than anybody around us, especially in our state school institutions. When you go to Augustana, you either get a really good package here or you pay 100%. We make our kids pay more than anybody around us for college. Our families have to pay more. We can change that. It’s gonna take time. It’s gonna take a shift in thinking, but we need to do that.”

Kristi Noem

What is your position on the legalization of cannabis?

“Governor Noem has always supported medical cannabis, believing that it should be available for South Dakotans once it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration. While she is personally opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, the Noem administration has implemented one of the most well-run medical cannabis programs in the country.

“My job, when I got sworn in as your governor, was to uphold the South Dakota Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, and when those ballot measures pass that are unconstitutional, it is my job to look at them. This appears to be written constitutionally. Therefore, if it passes, I will implement it.”

What is your position on Medicaid expansion?

“I won’t be voting for it myself personally because of the tax increases that would have to happen to pay for it, but if it is passed by the people, I certainly will implement it.”

If re-elected, what are your first goals for the state?

“In South Dakota, my priority this next legislative session is going to be paid family leave. We are going to give businesses more opportunities to offer that to their employees. We want, when mothers and fathers have new babies in their home, that they can stay home with them and take care of them, [and] if they choose to adopt or take care of family who are sick, that they have flexibility to do so.

“Also, we have a childcare crisis in the state. We have a lot of open jobs, but we also hear a lot of parents who can’t go to work because they can’t afford daycare. Daycares tell us that they need workforce that needs benefits. We’re gonna make sure we’re partnering with them to help provide those benefits so people can get back to work.”

What is your position on student debt?

“College may not be the right decision for every American, but for the students who took out the loans, it was their decision: able adults and willing borrowers who knowingly agreed to the terms of the loan and consented to taking on debt in exchange for taking classes. A high-cost degree is not the key to unlocking the American Dream, hard work and personal responsibility is.”

Tracey Quint

What is your position on the legalization of cannabis?

“South Dakota voters voted to legalize cannabis in 2020, until Kristi Noem unjustly used her influence in the state to declare it unconstitutional. The Quint-Strand campaign advocates for the full legalization of cannabis in South Dakota.”

What is your position on Medicaid expansion?

“The government should never be making medical decisions for anyone. Whether it’s abortion rights or control over our insurance or health system, the lines should never intersect. Once government gains control over something that large, it will be extremely hard to separate it. There are other steps we can take to make healthcare more affordable without having to hand our control over.”

If elected, what are your first goals for the state?

“Implementing the will of the people. We’ve seen it happen multiple times in the past decade. The people of South Dakota vote on something, and the government fights back or overturns it. I believe this sets a very dangerous precedent. The people know what they want and are intelligent enough to make those decisions for themselves. They don’t need the government second-guessing them.”

What are your thoughts on reducing incarceration?

“We have jails and prisons full of people in for drug charges and other nonviolent violations. When we clog up the prison system, it makes it harder to get violent criminals off the street. If we are going to have a police force, they should be doing what they were created to do: serve and protect the citizens.”

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