Tim tours every corner of SD

Tim tours every corner of SD

I traveled across western and north-central South Dakota last week.
On Friday, we stopped at 14 communities, meeting people in cafes, bars, a sales barn and on the street. I sat for newspaper interviews, chatted with folks and learned what issues and concerns they want addressed by their next congressman.
It was in keeping with a September sweep across South Dakota. I visited more than 60 communities in every corner of the state during the month. We may be outspent by our Republican opponent, who is taking money from special interests and political action committees, which Tim has refused to do, but we won’t be out-worked.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, I met with the Rapid City Journal Editorial Board, two days after sitting down with the Argus Leader Editorial Board in Sioux Falls. After discussing why I am running and what issues and beliefs make me a new kind of candidate with the Journal staffers, I spoke to the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association at its 127th Annual Convention and Trade Show.
I found them very receptive and enjoyed hearing their thoughts. When I said he strongly supported a restoration of the Country Of Origin Label policy, the stockgrowers rose to deliver a standing ovation. It was a marked contrast to their feelings about Dusty Johnson, who opposes COOL.
“We need to restore COOL, and Congress has the ability to do so,” I have repeatedly said. “I will work on that from the day I am elected.”

The next day started in Whitewood, as I met with folks at the local coffee shop and listened to them as they explained their concerns with workforce development and putting South Dakotans back to work.

From there, it was on to the St. Onge Livestock Auction, where I talked with general manager Justin Tupper and his father, Kimball Mayor Wayne Tupper. Ag issues are a primary concern in this campaign, as I have has stopped at elevators, sales barns and fairs to ask farmers and ranchers their thought and advice.
We then headed to Nisland, followed by a stop in Newell, where he chatted with Doug Wallman, a local electrician, and Bret Clanton, a rancher and photographer. Clanton is a Republican, but like many people in the GOP, he supports me, introducing us to people at Saloon No. 3, where we had lunch, followed by a local bank, grocery store and hardware store.

From there, we headed to Reva and Meadow, Bison, Shade Hill and Lemmon, where I was interviewed by LaQuita Shockley, owner and editor of The Dakota Herald. Chad Peterson, my scheduler and regular traveling companion, and I also toured the famed Petrified Wood Park & Museum.
Then it was back on the road, as we headed to Keldron, Morristown, McIntosh and McLaughlin. We made a stop in Mobridge before heading on to Aberdeen as midnight approached.
Saturday meant the Gypsy Days Parade as Northern State university celebrated its homecoming. It was a wet and cool day, but I found a warm reception at the Gypsy Days Parade.
This campaign has involved long hours and a lot of travel, but it’s also been enlightening, educational and a lot of fun. We plan to continue at this pace in these closing days as we connect with South Dakotans.

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Rally for All draws large, enthusiastic crowd

SIOUX FALLS—More than 500 people came together to celebrate an American tradition Friday in Sioux Falls, enjoying a picnic, great live music and a resounding message of the need for a return to our political roots.
Tim Bjorkman hosted the Rally for All at Terrace Park and spoke in the midst of a two-hour performance by the El Riad Shrine rock group The Last Call Band. The crowd, basking in an ideal late summer evening in the park, gave him a loud and long ovation after his remarks.
“This election is about values,” Tim said. “About our values. About who we are as Americans, as South Dakotans.”
That is why he chose to step down from the circuit court bench last year and run for South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, he said. Tim said he and his wife Kay decided they needed to try to make a difference.
“We’re convinced that Congress is broken,” he said. “Both parties, nationally are responsible.”
A big part of the problem is elected officials who are more concerned about their next election than the next generation of Americans, Tim said. Instead, we need to be concerned about the kind of nation we leave behind.
The path to that future is by retracing our original steps as a country, Tim said.
“Our nation was founded on a simple, yet profound idea — that every person counts,” he said. “Our government was founded to protect life, liberty and that quintessential American trait, the pursuit of happiness.”
Tim said he wanted to restore the promise of America, the opportunity to succeed and build a full, productive life.
“We’re losng it in America today,” he said.
Tim said for too long, we have failed to invest in our neighbors, allowing untreated mental illness, addiction, a lack of education and healthcare, to build a permanent underclass where crime is all too common. It has filled our jails and prisons, reduced the number of people in the workforce and dramatically increased costs to taxpayers.
He said he saw it on the bench and on the parole board. It helped spur him to run for Congress. Tim said he is promoting healthcare for all, education and job training. All those will help build a stronger community and a thriving economy for all.
“We can do better and it goes back to the fundamental idea this country was founded on,” he said.
Today, politicians are addicted to special interest dollars and dependent on big donors who fund their campaigns. Candidates must choose if they will take part in that corrupt process, Tim said, or instead run for office with the help of friends, supporters and people who share their belief in change.
“You can’t fight against the special interests if you take their money,” he said. “So, I won’t take a dime of it.”
It’s a question of who owns America, Tim said.
“Is it the special interests or Wall Street?” he asked. “Or is it still We the People?”
Tim said he was dedicated to ensuring every man, woman and child had a seat at the table of opportunity.  That drew a loud round of applause.
The Rally for All was a free event, but supporters donated money after enjoying the music, good food and clear message of the need for change and reform. Tim wore a broad smile as he posed for photos for people, and he didn’t charge $5,000 for that, either.
He joined The Last Call Band for a rousing version of “Sweet Caroline” and people in the crowd, relaxing on chairs, blankets and picnic benches on the sloping terraces that give the park its name, joined in.
“What a beautiful day to be here in South Dakota,” Tim said.
Tim: Native American issues important to all

Tim: Native American issues important to all

I agree with The Native Sun News editorial about the need for candidates “running for the House of Representatives and for the Governor of South Dakota [to] know the demographics of this State and to understand that “Native Americans will turn out in the largest numbers ever because they are just plain sick and tired of politics as usual by the entrenched bureaucrats now running our government.”
I disagree, though, with The Native Sun News editorial that equated me with Dusty Johnson and other candidates whom your editorial stated know “little or nothing about the power of the Native American vote.”
I know and have had relationships with Native American friends and clients my entire life, and as a lawyer and judge developed a knowledge and appreciation of and for the Lakota culture. As a lawyer I know what it’s like to defend Native Americans in court, including for first-degree murder – and secure an acquittal. I’ve met and learned to know thousands of other Natives across the state as a lawyer, judge, and now a candidate for office.
So I made it a point when I announced for Congress as someone with no political experience or connections to reach out to Native Americans across the state as I’ve tried to do with other South Dakotans. I traveled to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud on multiple occasions and have met with members of the Rosebud Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Yankton Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Standing Rock Sioux, Flandreau Santee Sioux, and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribes so far. I also have trips in the works to the Lower Brule Sioux and Crow Creek Sioux.
I have conducted town halls in Mission on the Rosebud (Jan. 13), in Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne for that community and Standing Rock (May 18), and on the Pine Ridge (May 25) and offered to come to other reservations and conduct them also.
In those town hall sessions I listened carefully to what each person who attended had to say, and answered every question asked until the questions stopped coming, then met individually and listened to stories until people were done.
I have heard seemingly unending accounts from those who have fallen through the cracks of IHS healthcare, something I saw on the bench for over a decade as well. I’ve heard their stories of failure to get basic healthcare even though our government has a federal treaty obligation to provide it. I’ve spoken across the state, not just on reservations, about the need to hold the government accountable for this travesty that is harming so many of our fellow citizens and spoken of the need to treat the meth and opioid epidemics as the national health crises they are rather than a ticket to prison.
I’ve listened to the many aspects of tribal jurisdiction issues, criminal justice issues, sovereignty problems, and a host of others.
In addition to the town halls we’ve held, I’ve met with Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Council members and toured their remarkable new healthcare clinic, and just this week met with tribal council members of Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. We will continue to hold meet and greets and other events across the tribal lands in South Dakota and will continue to listen to tribal members who live off the reservations in our communities across the state. Next Thursday, Aug. 2, we will be taping an appearance on “Oyate Today” and doing an interview with your newspaper in Rapid City.
Finally, I’ve fielded a large number of questions from Natives across the state on Facebook and on the campaign trail at fairs like Central States, the Sioux Empire and others.
While it’s important to sound the clarion about how Natives are crying out for a strong voice willing to stand up for them, it’s worth noting those who have already made their support clear. I’ve worked hard to be that voice and will continue to do that.
So please reconsider the accuracy of lumping me with any other candidates who haven’t shown the interest or dedicated the time to learning about issues important to Native Americans in our state.
I welcome your input and ideas. You can learn more about me and what I stand for by going to timbjorkman.com or our Facebook page @timbjorkmanforcongress to learn more, and send me your thoughts through both.

Pro-Life for the Whole of Life  

Pro-Life for the Whole of Life  

To my fellow South Dakotans, here is my position on abortion.

I am pro-life. When I use those words it means that I believe in supporting and ensuring a dignified life for the whole of life, from the womb to the grave.

As a former judge, I also respect the rule of law and I recognize that today, based upon constitutional rulings, the right to an abortion is allowed by the law and that it will remain the law until either the Supreme Court changes it or a constitutional amendment is passed. And despite all the talk from politicians, no member of South Dakota’s current congressional delegation has offered such an amendment on the floor of Congress, nor has any such amendment reached the floor of Congress in over 30 years.

The competing rights involved and the vast divergence of how reasonable people see this topic are what make it an achingly difficult and highly divisive issue.  Yet, the sad reality is that the abortion debate is only one of several issues that have polarized us as Americans.

And we’ve allowed our differences to keep us from working together on problems we can agree exist and can address.

We need to apply generous doses of tolerance and respect for the differences in one another’s views, which often spring from deeply personal life experiences. Then we must put our heads together seeking ways we can move forward together.

We have not done a good job of caring for vulnerable young lives on either side of the birth process. Abortion and our failure to care for vulnerable children in dysfunctional homes all across America are twin problems that represent different sides of the same coin. Think of this: there were around 900,000 abortions in 2014. In addition, an estimated 2,000,000 more children last year suffered from abuse or other maltreatment that will have a profound impact on their lives.

Re-establishing a respect for vulnerable, young life only begins by outlawing abortion, because ending legal abortion without adding protections for pregnant women will not only result in other harms; it also won’t resolve this deeper cultural disrespect that fails to protect our most vulnerable children after birth.

That’s why we should think not just about laws that outlaw abortion but about laws that protect life and ensure its dignity.

To do that we must develop meaningful measures to help women — especially those who are poor and abandoned — who find themselves pregnant, including protection from workplace and educational discrimination.  And it means confronting some of the factors underlying the decision to abort by ensuring access to prenatal care and quality childcare, encouraging family leave; eliminating discrimination against pregnant workers; improving the adoption process, and ensuring that all Americans, including children and their caregivers, have affordable healthcare.

This is the path to a life of dignity for each vulnerable child.

An approach that simply outlaws abortion but fails to address our troubling infant mortality rates, food insecurity, abuse and neglect, and poor academic outcomes among poor children isn’t worthy of the label ‘pro-life.’  The person who is truly pro-life actively works to protect vulnerable children born into highly dysfunctional homes, to ensure our collective responsibility to protect and educate them so that they have a fair shot at a decent life, because that person realizes this: they are ALL our children.

It is the right thing morally, but it is also the fiscally responsible thing to do, because it’s the surest way to narrow the road to school failure and prison, and to widen the path for those children to become responsible citizens.

Only this sort of whole life approach can make a movement authentically pro-life.

There is more. While both sides have debated the abortion issue for over 40 years, each side has too often taken its collective eyes off the underlying problem in the abortion debate — unintended pregnancy — which has, ironically, mushroomed since 1973. Consider these numbers: among adults with no more than a diploma — who are mostly low income - the unintended birth rate is startlingly higher than that of all other Americans, and is now stunningly more than twice that of the emerging world average!

Those numbers help explain why today in South Dakota, 47 percent of births are paid for by Medicaid. And why about 2 in 3 mothers with a high school diploma or less raise children in single-parent homes. And why 70 percent of children born to never-married parents grow up in poverty, at high risk for academic failure.

Fiscal responsibility alone should cause us to ensure that every adult – including those who cannot afford them – have access to contraceptives that will prevent pregnancy when not trying to conceive.  

This is particularly important among those struggling with addiction. As a judge, I witnessed the unspeakably tragic pattern of unintended pregnancies for children entering the world from the womb of a mother addicted to meth, after the state government had ended the mother’s Medicaid eligibility because she no longer had a minor child in the home.

How can we say to the child born to a meth-addicted mom that she has been given a fair shot at life?

Regardless of one’s views on abortion, we should be able to join forces to actually confront the root of the problem: unintended pregnancy, a condition that has reached epidemic proportions among impoverished women in this state and nation, and that profoundly impacts our economy, our families, and our most precious resource: our children. No less than the preservation of the American Dream for millions of our children is at stake in how we respond to this challenge.

The path forward for our state and nation is to ensure a life with dignity to every child.

Thanks for reading.

Bjorkman: Poll from noteworthy source shows tightening race

Bjorkman: Poll from noteworthy source shows tightening race

Congressional candidate Tim Bjorkman has narrowed the gap in his race for South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a new poll shows.
In addition, Bjorkman is within the margin of error in the Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey when voters are told more about each candidate.
The poll shows Republican Dusty Johnson leading Bjorkman 39 percent to 37 percent when the positions and backgrounds of both candidates are provided. In the initial head-to-head match-up, Johnson leads Bjorkman 43-33, with 14 percent undecided.
However, this lead is largely due to Johnson’s substantially greater name recognition, an advantage that will certainly decline as Bjorkman becomes better known.
While Johnson’s own recently released polling shows him with a 21-point lead, there are reasons to question those numbers. For unexplained reasons, the pollsters left out two of the four candidates who will appear on the November ballot, which may help account for the polling firm’s low accuracy ratings.
While Bjorkman’s pollster, PPP is ranked fifth for accuracy by FiveThirtyEight, which tracks political surveys, FiveThirtyEight ranks Johnson’s pollster, Public Opinion Strategies, near the bottom — 25th.
Additionally, an analysis from a Fordham University political science professor ranked Public Policy Polling as the most accurate polling firm in the nation for the 2012 presidential election.
“I believe our numbers accurately reflect the state of the race,” Bjorkman said Tuesday. “I am the underdog, but I knew that going into this race. We’re running with a purpose; we don’t accept PAC money of any sort and we want to fundamentally change the way elections are run. As this reliable polling seems to suggest, we are gaining ground every week.”
While most voters already are well-acquainted with Johnson, a two-time state office winner, less than half know Bjorkman, but those who do view him more far favorably than Johnson, suggesting that as the campaign heats up, voter sentiments will likely shift strongly to Bjorkman.
It’s also noteworthy that despite Republican voters’ familiarity with Johnson, even after he has spent over $750,000 so far on his campaign, he hasn’t won over 41 percent of Republican voters.
Additionally, Bjorkman runs relatively strong among them with 16 percent supporting him, another 16 percent say they’re unsure who they’ll vote for, and 9 percent supporting other candidates. And by a wide margin of 60-19 percent, voters are more likely to vote for Bjorkman after learning that he is refusing all special interest money from political action committees.
PPP surveyed 641 registered South Dakota voters, 53 percent of them Republicans, from July 19-20. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percent. The poll was conducted by automated telephone interviews.
The POS poll surveyed 400 people. There was no available breakdown by party.
The Johnson polling also shows that, while Johnson enjoys the predicted name recognition edge, he’s not liked as well as Bjorkman among those who have opinions of each man: Bjorkman enjoys favorability ratings of 4:1 in the Johnson poll, while Johnson’s favorability rating is half that at 2:1.
To read the Rapid City Journal story, go to https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/dueling-polls-show-gap-of-or-points-in-house-race/article_25a816e0-efea-57e2-8889-0fd01745c565.html
Tim has busy week in West River

Tim has busy week in West River

Tim headed west this week and discovered a gold rush of support in the Black Hills.
During a busy five days in western South Dakota, Tim held a successful meet-and-greet fundraiser, met with Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender, was interviewed four times and met with many South Dakotans.
The week started in Custer State Park, where Tim and Kay enjoyed the majesty of the state park.
“Enjoying a summer rain on the porch of the Game Lodge in Custer State Park!” he posted on Twitter. “This park in all its beauty is a testament to leaders with a vision for a better tomorrow for SD. I hope to be that same kind of strong, independent voice for a better future for us all in D.C.”
From there, Tim went to Custer on Tuesday, where he spoke at length with Custer County Chronicle reporter Ron Burtz on a wide variety of issues, campaigned at the Custer County Courthouse, and talked with people he met in town.
On Wednesday, Tim traveled to Rapid City, where he met with residents before going to the KOTA Radio studio for an intriguing interview with reporter Ian White.
That night, Tim hosted a well-attended meet-and-greet fundraiser at Murphy’s Pub & Grill in Rapid City. It was an opportunity to meet with people and discuss the issues that make this election so important.
Tim talked of the need for change and fundamental reform and listened to the concerns of voters who attended.
On Thursday, Tim started the day with an interview on “Good Morning KOTA Territory,” the most-popular morning TV news program in West River. He also recorded an interview for KOTA News reports later in the day.
He then went to the magnificent Prairie Edge in downtown Rapid City, where he was interviewed by Native Sun News reporter Richie Richards for the newspaper as well as for a segment on “Oyate Today,” a NSN television show.
“We need to take account of the connection between lack of access to healthcare and a lot of bad outcomes: untreated mental health issues, addiction, exploding prison populations,” Tim said in the interview. “Providing access to healthcare is the wise thing to do economically.”
Tim said he welcomed the chance to focus on Native American issues and detail his years of experience in working with and assisting Natives.
At noon, Tim had lunch with Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender, a former police chief now in his second term leading the city. They spoke for almost 90 minutes about the issues in this race and discussed the importance of communicating with people in person, through the traditional media and on social media.

Tim enjoys time at Brookings Summer Arts Festival

Tim enjoys time at Brookings Summer Arts Festival

Tim spent several hours Sunday, July 15, at the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, where he met with people interested in his campaign and excited about change and reform.

It was a wonderful day at the 47th annual festival and a good opportunity to connect with South Dakotans, such as longtime Brookings businessman Tom Yseth, a former Brookings school board member, chamber director, Brookings County commissioner and Game, Fish & Parks commissioner.

Tim and Tom strolled through a packed Pioneer Park, where thousands of South Dakotans and guests from other states came for the two-day celebration of art and creativity.

They shook hands and talked and laughed with people enjoying a wonderful summer day in a gorgeous setting.

“I always enjoy coming to Brookings,” Tim told one of the volunteers working at a booth.

He attended SDSU for two years after graduating from high school and has maintained ties with the community over the years, including attending a fundraiser this spring.

Tim’s campaign has taken him across South Dakota, as he has attended summer festivals, walked in parades and met with thousands of people. It’s an opportunity to hear what people are interested in, he said.

“This is one of the best things, getting out and meeting with people,” Tim said. “This is so enjoyable.”