Voters in South Dakota Legislative District 17, made up of Clay and Turner counties, will be asked to choose between incumbent Republican Sen. Art Rusch of Vermillion and District 17 Rep. Nancy Rasmussen of Hurley.

The Plain Talk asked the candidates about their legislative experience and what has prompted them to seek office.

Art Rusch

Name: Art Rusch

Family: Wife - Lana; 4 children - Matthew, Elizabeth, Jon and Mark; 5 grandchildren - Thomas, Daniel, Michael, Sam and Adam

Occupation: Retired

Overview/Career Highlights: I served four terms as Clay County States Attorney and during that time I served as President of the South Dakota States Attorney's Association. I was in a private law practice in Vermillion for the next ten years and then was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge. In 1995 I was appointed as Presiding Judge of the First Judicial Circuit. I served as a Circuit Court Judge and as Presiding Judge of the circuit until my retirement in 2011. During that time I was President of the South Dakota Judge's Association and served as a substitute Justice on the South Dakota Supreme Court 25 times.

Previous Community/Public Service: USD Student Body President; Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and as a Director; SESDAC as a Director; Vermillion Lions Club and as President; Vermillion Rotary Club; St. Agnes Parish Council and St. Agnes School Board; Vermillion United Way Committee; University of South Dakota Foundation and on the Executive Board; St. Agnes Knights of Columbus and as Grand Knight; Boy Scouts as an Assistant Scoutmaster, recipient of Silver Beaver Award, and as President of Sioux Council; Clay County Historical Society and as a Director.

Number of years in public office/current position: I am presently serving my third, two-year term in the South Dakota Senate.

Why I want to serve: It is important to have legislators who know and understand the law. Because of my past legal experience I have that knowledge and understanding. Every session I have had legislators from both parties thank me for explaining and helping them to undertand the effects and consequences of proposed laws.

Most important issues/challenges for the district: The budget is the biggest challenge and its impact on health care providers and on education (both K-12 and higher education). USD is the biggest employer in District 17, so support for the University, its students and state employees is critical. We also need to promote agriculture and prevent flooding on the Vermillion River which renders so much good farmland in Clay and Turner counties unuseable. The Vermillion River Basin Water Development District should include all of the river basin, not just Clay and Turner counties. Without including the upper reaches of the river (particularly Lake Thompson) in the District, there is limited ability to plan and implement improvements along the river.

Vote for me because: I know and understand Southeast South Dakota. In my 18 years as a judge, I heard and ruled on cases in both Clay and Turner counties. I have the interests of USD faculty and students at heart. My thoughtful approach to the issues which come before the Legislature have earned the respect of fellow legislators as evidenced by their appointment of me to the Code Commission, the Corrections Commission, the Government Operations and Audit Committee, and most recently as chairman of the Interim Investigation Committee. The Governor has listenened to me and made changes in some of her bills that I requested. I was able to get the USD Health Sciences building passed in the Senate almost unanimously.

Nancy Rasmussen

Family: Married to Mark Rasmussen, we live on an acreage outside of Hurley. Three children, two work in Government and one works in the Ministry. We are blessed with two granddaughters.

Occupation: Retired

Overview/Career Highlights:

An overview of my career and work experience have been in nursing, agriculture, and education. As a nurse I worked in Coronary Care, helped author the first CCU step down teaching manual, and helped with the teaching process. As a traveling nurse, I managed a Mobil Cancer Screening Clinic that screened women for breast cancer using Thermography Detection, a new method at that time used for cancer detection. Agriculture was a new phase in my life after I married my husband Mark. Business and family were blended successfully. Teaching has always been an interest of mine. I support and embrace lifelong learning. When our son was a small boy I operated a pre-school in my home. When the children were all in school I was asked to join an International Organization called Reclaiming Youth, hired as their Bookstore Manager. Reclaiming Youth focuses on helping professionals and parents care for troubled youth through seminars, books, and training opportunities. My pre-retirement work adventure was working for the Viborg/Hurley School System. I was offered the opportunity to work with resource students of all ages in and out of the classroom setting. This was very rewarding and adds to my carried work and life experiences.

Previous Community/Public Service:

I have served in our church as Superintendent of Sunday School, Church Council Secretary, Sunday School Teacher, Christian Speaker, Curriculum Developer, and Parish Education Associate. For our school system I have served as the PTO President, Director of Odyssey of the Mind, and Coordinator of several fundraisers. As a community member 4-H was a staple for our family. I am a member of the Turner County Republicans and serve as the Committeewoman on the Executive Board.

Public Office: Currently serving in the House of Representatives for Clay and Turner Counties. This is my 8th year of service.

Why I want to serve: I want to continue serving District 17 with the same commitment and dedication I have for the past 8years in the House of Representatives.

Most important issues/challenges for District 17:

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic funding will be the most pressing issue for our district and our state. Social distancing required educators and businesses to find creative avenues to deliver instruction and services. Health care and those who work and support this industry are held in high regard for the work they are providing all of us. The month ahead will clarify for us the most pressing needs.

A vote for Nancy for Senate will put a conservative voice in the senate that will be dedicated to preserving our 2nd Amendment Rights, as well as supporting education and parental rights.

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