SD State Legislature Candidate Survey: Mary Weinheimer
PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Mary Weinheimer is running to be elected to the South Dakota State House in District 24. Cities in District 24 include Pierre, Fort Pierre, Onida, Highmore, and Philip. Weinheimer faces three primary opponents; Will Mortenson, Mike Weisgram, and Jim Sheehan.
1. Tell us about yourself?
As a lifelong Pierre resident, I’m very blessed to call this community and South Dakota home. My husband Mark and I have been married for more than 23 years, and we’ve been blessed with five kids -- our greatest pride and joy. My family business, Morris, a construction company in business for more than 52 years now, is a strong supporter of the Pierre/Fort Pierre communities and central South Dakota. Though I still help out with Morris, Mark and I are full-time farmers in Sully County.
2. Why are you running for this office?
As a wife, a mom, a small businesswoman, and a farmer, I see firsthand the cultural and economic threats to our families and our community. I believe our legislature needs more representatives with the vision and courage to face those challenges head-on.
I believe our state motto, “Under God the People Rule,” should serve as the guidepost for policymakers’ decision-making (too many politicians forget that they are public servants). I believe the family is the backbone of society, and it should be cherished and protected. I believe South Dakota’s small, rural communities, like our people, make this state exceptional and should not continue to take a backseat to Sioux Falls or Rapid City.
3. What would be your top three priorities if elected?
If I am given the honor to serve District 24 in the House, I will fight hard to keep our communities thriving and our families strong. I will fight against the erosion of parental rights, the economic erosion of our small, rural communities, and the expansion of government into areas of our lives where it doesn’t belong.
· I’m pro-life
· I’m pro-Second Amendment
· I believe in limited, responsible government
· I strongly support agriculture
4. What relevant experience would you bring to the office?
As a wife, a mom, a small businesswoman, and a farmer, I’ve spent more than ten years actively engaged in the state legislature. I know dozens of legislators and have a good relationship with the Executive Branch. As a freshman, it’s likely going to be hard to advance any major initiatives, so I’m going to align myself with those who believe in the platform I’m running on: ideas that will strengthen this community and help our families compete so our community doesn’t become an afterthought, but rather grows strongly and thrives.
5. Do you support tax relief for South Dakotans? If so, what type and how would you make it happen?
Yes, I support tax relief. Tens of millions of dollars cannot continue to go out the door without first giving ordinary South Dakotans a tax break. Both our representatives voted against sales tax relief (HB 1327), saying that relief wouldn’t have done much -- it was a tiny amount. I strongly disagree with that. Inflation and taxes are hurting hardworking South Dakotans in District 24. Our representatives’ repeated opposition to putting money back into people’s pockets was very disappointing.
Property taxes need to be studied and thoroughly reviewed as well.
When taxes are levied, remember, someone had to work to earn the money to pay them. With inflation inching its way up to 10%, there are some real challenges our people face. For example, fertilizer prices are up 61%, and gas prices are up 50%. And, rather than finding projects for this money, I believe our number one priority needs to be to put money back into people’s pockets.
6. Housing availability has become an issue for many South Dakotans. How would you seek to make housing more affordable?
First, when talking about “affordability,” we need to remember that the root cause of that problem is almost always not money. The Governor’s Office pointed this out several times when the housing bill was being debated. There are zoning issues local communities can look at and creative solutions that can be adopted here (just like they did in North Dakota).
Second, it looks like the housing bill will be revisited next year because of the poor way it was written. If the housing authority can’t figure out how to resolve many of the issues with last year’s bill, no money will go into infrastructure projects until many, many months from now. So the second thing we need to do is remember to draft legislation carefully and thoughtfully, so we don’t have to go back to it repeatedly.
7. South Dakota correctional facilities have been dealing with a number of issues, most prominent among them overcrowding and staffing shortages. What would you do to help combat these issues?
I believe the family is the backbone of society, and it should be cherished and protected. The root cause of our prison problems is that we have way too many people going into them. Our communities and our education system need to sit down together and assess what more can be done to prevent crime and ultimately, the growth of our prisons.
Regarding the immediate need we have with staff -- they need to be better compensated.
8. What steps should the legislature take to entice young people to remain in the state?
South Dakota’s small, rural communities, like our people, make this state exceptional. Yet, we - Pierre, Ft. Pierre, and all our surrounding communities - consistently take a
backseat to communities like Sioux Falls and Rapid City. There’s no need to “entice” young people if we set up the rules of the road well - low taxes, reasonable regulations, and growing/thriving communities.
The second component to this is ensuring our kids have a strong education. When it comes to state involvement in schools (rather than school boards), the proper role for us is to ensure we are providing excellent services for parents and children.
9. Do you support any changes to the way elections are run in South Dakota?
I haven’t studied this question, so my initial answer is no.
10. A U.S. Supreme Court decision is looming on a landmark abortion case that could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. Governor Kristi Noem has indicated she would like to ban abortion outright, and a “trigger law” already on the books would so, with only an exception in place when the mother’s life is at risk. Do you support banning abortion to this extent? If not, what exceptions would you like to see made?
I’m pro-life. Prenatal science on this question gets stronger and stronger with each passing day. I’m comfortable with both the trigger law and Governor Noem’s stance on the issue.
11. What is your stance on legalized, recreational marijuana in South Dakota?
State legislative candidates in contested districts this primary season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. Candidates were asked to keep their responses limited to roughly 4-5 sentences for each question. With the exception of a quick spelling and grammar check, answers were not edited by the poster. Those who responded to the survey questions had their results posted.
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