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.