SD State Legislative Survey: Mistie Caldwell

South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)
South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)(DAKOTA NEWS NOW)
Published: Jun. 4, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT
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SPEARFISH, S.D. (KOTA) - Mistie Caldwell is running for election to the South Dakota State House in District 31. District 31 is made up entirely by Lawrence County, which includes both the cities Deadwood and Spearfish. She faces two primary challengers; incumbents Scott Odenbach and Mary Fitzgerald.

Mistie Caldwell is running for the South Dakota State House in District 31.
Mistie Caldwell is running for the South Dakota State House in District 31.(Plain Jane Photo and Video)

1. Tell us about yourself?

My name is Mistie Caldwell, and I am a 5th generation resident of  District 31. Jeff is my husband of 26 years and has been the high school counselor in Belle Fourche for 22 years. Together, we have two adult daughters, Phoebe and Sophia. They are our greatest accomplishments. I have served as the Executive Director of Visit Spearfish for nearly 14 years; my prior careers were in the mental health and disabilities fields. I graduated from Spearfish High School and Augustana College (now University).  I have served on the Spearfish Board of Education for 12 years and have dedicated my personal and professional life to serving the communities where I live.

2. Why are you running for this office? 

As mentioned previously, public service is my passion both personally and professionally. After 12 years on the school board, I want to expand my service to District 31. I am uniquely positioned to hit the ground running, as I stay on top of local and state concerns and have worked hard to be an active participant in the business of the region and state. I lead with common sense and educate myself on matters before making a decision.

3. What would be your top three priorities if elected?

1.) Maintaining small government and showing respect for my fellow elected, local officials by only legislating those things that need support at a higher level. 2.) The “Big 3″ - affordable housing, workforce and childcare (these cannot be considered independently from one another) 3) Education - from K12 to higher education, I understand the importance of educating our youth for the future, as well as championing the importance of BHSU to our district, (and a 4th) 4.) Tourism and small business advocacy.

4. What relevant experience would you bring to the office? 

I am present in the community and region and serve on many district and state boards; I am a uniter, not a divider and understand the role of working together for the greater good. I currently serve on the Spearfish Board of Education, have a seat the executive committee of Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association (as well as chair of the Policy Committee), am liaison for the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association and the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education, member of the community Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board, member of the Black Hills State University Strategic Planning Team, and past Senior Warden and Vestry Member of the All Angels Episcopal Church. I have also served in the past as the president of the Zonta of Spearfish Area Organization, as well as President of the Booth Society Board of Directors. I have made District 31 my home for 45 of my 51 years and care about the people I would represent.

5. Housing availability has become an issue for many South Dakotans. How would you seek to make housing more affordable? 

HB 1033 supports developers with infrastructure assistance to develop new housing - further consideration needs to be given for those developers who build housing in an affordable manner for workforce and pass the savings on to the homebuyer.

6. 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 in the use of evidence-based programs to reduce recidivism - the key truly is programs based on evidence. We need to get to the core problem in youth to minimize the probability of re-offending as adults. Mental health and addiction issues, lack of presence of a strong health family or advocate for a child, and the like, are recipes for future problems. This is one area of focus I feel strongly about. I believe public safety is paramount and that means keeping people incarcerated who are at high risk of re-offending. Therefore, to reduce overcrowding, we need to reduce the probability of that. Staffing shortage are related, in part, to affordable housing and childcare (for those with families). We need to do what we can to fix those issues and couple that with ensuring people feel safe and valued in the work place.

7. What steps should the legislature take to entice young people to remain in the state? 

Working together to find resolution to the “Big 3″ - affordable housing, competitive wages for workforce, and availability of affordable childcare for those hoping to start a family. I  believe there are creative partnerships that can be considered - private businesses investing in childcare and developers receiving support for affordable housing will help two of those three. A thorough study into high need areas in our workforce also needs to be completed, and the results should be shared with the Department of Education and higher education to work toward ensuring our educational system is investing in these areas of need through their curriculum and encouarging students to explore and pursue careers in those high-need areas.

8. Do you support any changes to the way elections are run in South Dakota?

I believe South Dakota election officials do an excellent job of ensuring the integrity of the voting process is maintained. A report from the Heritage Foundation cites five (5) instances of voter fraud since 2005. I am for small government - I do not see evidence-based information to support the need for state government to insert itself here.

9. 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?  

Yes, and I would be a leader in the expectation of supporting the life of the child through the age of 18. Resources must be allocated for prevention of unplanned-pregnancy education, access for mental health services for parents who have children born from an unplanned pregnancy, parenting classes, support for increased foster care availability and childcare access for emergency placements, access to affordable adoption, and any necessary early-childhood intervention to ensure the children have all opportunities for success readily available. I had a 15-year career putting my money where my mouth was. I worked with young adults and adults with developmental disabilities who experienced unplanned pregnancies. I have worked with victims of abuse, incest and rape who gave birth to a child from an unplanned pregnancy. I have supported them through parenting classes, the foster care system, termination of parental rights hearings and adoption. I will continue my commitment to that.

10. What is your stance on legalized, recreational marijuana in South Dakota?   If the voters decide to approve it, I will work diligently to ensure public safety is paramount. If passed, it needs to be introduced slowly and be kept out of the public areas where vulnerable populations spend their time. We want to uphold the values established in District 31 as a place where people can live, work and play in a safe and healthy environment.

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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