Senator John Thune visits the Southern Hills
HOT SPRINGS, S.D. — Senator John Thune visited the Southern Black Hills Wednesday while Congress is out of session, three weeks before election day. Thune started the day with a Farm Bill Roundtable in Edgemont. The afternoon took him to Hot Springs hearing about community concerns from city leaders. Thune continues his trek across the state Thursday in Brookings where he’ll be touring Bel Brands USA.
What brought Senator Thune to the Southern Hills?
“Just obviously want to hear what’s on the hearts and minds of people here in this part of South Dakota. And, you know, we try and get around every corner of the state on a fairly regular basis. So we were over in Edgemont today, largely talking about what’s happening with the ag economy, a lot of livestock production over there. And then, of course, there’s a lot of generally too Forest Service issues, federal lands issues, and then here in Hot Springs kind of ran the gamut. Talked a little bit about the travel industry, some health care issues, some education issues. So it’s it’s good for me, informs my decision making and helps me be a better stronger voice for South Dakota, every corner of it.”
What are some of the major concerns being heard during visit?
“Well, first and foremost, of course, as you would expect, are pocketbook issues, economic issues, primarily inflation I would say front center right now with everybody and the cost of energy and, you know, concerns about what what the country doing on energy. And, you know, there are lots of issues around the workforce and trying to find enough people to fill jobs. Just that kind of the day to day issues that communities across South Dakota are dealing with from law enforcement, you know, you you name it. But I would say it all kind of starts and generally ends with those pocketbook issues, what’s happening in the economy.”
Any news from Washington being shared during visit?
“I try to keep them up to speed on what’s happening. And, you know, clearly the last couple of years, at least in my view, have moved the country far to the left. I’m hoping that we can get a check and balance in November so that we can at least stop some of the crazy ideas that have been emerging and some of which are getting enacted. But you know, it’s just kind of give them an insight into what we are doing, things that we’re working on. I talked about an all of the above energy strategy for the country. That’s something that’s of great importance I think, to the country, to South Dakota, certainly something I want to be very involved with. You know, transportation issues is something I’ve spent a lot of time on. Broadband issues and of course, agriculture, which is South Dakota’s number one industry. So it’s an opportunity for me to kind of give them an update on things that we’re working on. But more importantly than anything else, to hear from them, I try and keep these discussions very informal. They’re largely listening meetings. But again, I hear in many cases we get ideas and things that we go back and you go to work on. And I got a number of suggestions today over in Edgemont for the upcoming Farm Bill, things that we can do and hopefully make our ag policy stronger and better and more effective. So it’s it’s a process really and I think this is the key to representative government. If you’re representing people, you get to know what they’re thinking and how you can best, best serve them.”
Any additional stops planned?
“We’ve been all over the state and we’ll continue to do that whenever Congress isn’t in session. I’m usually bouncing around out here somewhere. We’re going to be out in western South Dakota again next week. We kind of plan it from week to week. Yesterday I was up in northeastern South Dakota. We had Redfield, Clark, and Webster yesterday, and the day before we were at Coleman and Chester. And I’ve been in Phillip and Wall and New Underwood and Buffalo and Bison. So we’ve kind of we’re trying to hit every corner of the state. Obviously the issues are a little bit different based on where you are. But then in some ways they’re the same because everybody cares about pocketbook issues and this inflation is just eating everybody’s lunch, unfortunately, in South Dakota.”
What’s the best way to keep up with your work in Washington?
“We got offices out here in South Dakota that are active, very active, getting out and about, hearing from people and very accessible. But yeah, calling or emailing. We post a lot of information on social media platforms that people can kind of keep up to date with what we’re doing. But anytime anybody has anything they want to get in touch with us about, we just encourage them to make a contact, make personal contact. And we do our very best to, to be responsive. And we respond to a lot of emails and a lot of old fashioned letters, which we still get a good number of and phone calls. But more than anything else, you want to make sure that you’re being responsive. And I think that comes with the job. People should expect that and we should deliver.”