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It Was Good to See You

March 22, 2019

There are nearly 900,000 people who call South Dakota home, so when I’m not in Washington, either after the Senate wraps up its work for the week or during an extended state work period, like the one we just had, I do my best to crisscross the state to see and personally hear from as many people as possible.

Being a U.S. senator isn’t a typical nine-to-five, Monday through Friday, go to and from the office kind of gig. There are no time clocks. There are no sick days. But you will never hear me complain. I love representing South Dakota, which is why even when I’m home and have traded my suit and tie for sneakers and blue jeans, I’m always willing to stop and chat. Whether it’s at a basketball game on a Friday night or at a coffee shop on a Saturday morning, they are the perfect opportunities for me to hear what’s on your mind without you having to take extra time out of your day to do it.

After having just spent some extra time in South Dakota, I had a productive few days meeting new people and seeing old friends in places like Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, De Smet, Arlington, Sinai, Nunda, Corsica, Armour, Parkston, Sturgis, and Piedmont. I learned a lot, and we got a lot accomplished, and I want to thank everyone for their time, suggestions, and feedback. I couldn’t do my job without it.

One of the most humbling of these recent experiences was joining Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Ten Haken to tour some of the local flood damage. After seeing if firsthand, it’s no wonder that it’s even caught the attention of President Trump and his administration in Washington, D.C. I was struck by how many upbeat and confident people we encountered throughout the day. Even in the face of such tragedy, they saw hope. As the governor said, “the storms were strong, but South Dakotans are stronger.”  

The same can be said for folks in other parts of the state. For example, the snow-packed roads didn’t keep people from coming out to discuss everything that’s happening in Aberdeen and northeastern South Dakota. The community and its local leaders never cease to amaze me, so it was great to touch base and learn more about all of the big things they’re working on these days. And a trip to Aberdeen during this time of year wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the annual State B High School Basketball Tournament. If I’m in town, it’s a must-do for me.  

During a recent trip to Sturgis, I sat down with business owners and local leaders about broadband deployment in the United States. It’s no secret that closing the digital divide is one of my top priorities in the Senate, particularly in my role as chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and I’m as confident as ever that South Dakota can be a leader in the next generation of wireless broadband technology. The opportunity is at our fingertips, and we must continue working toward this digital revolution.  

While getting the latest news and updates from today’s local leaders is an important part of my job, visiting schools and meeting tomorrow’s leaders is among the things I most enjoy about being an elected official. I recently caught up with students from De Smet, Arlington, Dakota Christian, Sturgis, and Parkston. I’m constantly inspired by how smart and talented these young South Dakotans are, and it makes me even more optimistic about what the future holds for the United States.

It was good to see so many of you throughout the state, and I mean what I said. I’m always willing to hear what’s on your mind. Please, stop and chat. Call. Email. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out. And if you’re interested in following my travels in the state or my work in the Senate, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, too (@SenJohnThune).