District 32 Candidates

Meet The Candidates

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Senate

You will be able to vote for one.

Helene Duhamel

Republican // Incumbent
Sheriff's Office, Business Owner

Many local businesses continue to struggle amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. What programs or other actions would you support in the next six months to aid economic recovery?

I support Governor Noem’s $400 million grants to local businesses to help cover their losses from March through August 2020. I have heard from many business owners who are struggling and I’m concerned about the number of retail closures. One restauranteur approached me about allowing him to sell bulk products directly to the consumer. I worked with the Department of Health to make that happen. It’s a careful balancing act between public health and keeping businesses open, but I look for ways to help our home-town businesses in this challenging climate. My goal is to reduce red tape and look for solutions. I like the idea of grants to small and medium size meat processors so we can reduce the bottleneck at big processors and facilitate more direct-to-consumer business. More than anything, I want to be a legislator who is responsive to business needs and does all we can to help our area with quality growth.

What do you believe is vital to promoting quality economic growth in western South Dakota?

Quality economic growth means attention to the number of jobs AND the average income. It means supporting and enhancing quality of life with attention to infrastructure, schools, quality healthcare, vibrant downtown, clean environment, affordable housing, entertainment and more. The list goes on. My goal is to continue to make the Black Hills a place where individuals want to expand &/or relocate business and where South Dakota children want to stay and raise their families.

What is your favorite Black Hills Area business to support?

Black Hills Bagels run by Debra and Jack Jensen is one of my favorite Black Hills businesses. Debra is an acclaimed journalist who I had the pleasure to work with for many years before she ventured into retail business. She partnered with me on the KOTA Care & Share Food Drive to start the “Bagel in the Street” campaign, which annually brings in more than $10,000 to help feed the hungry. Debra works hard to market Mount Rushmore Road even through many years of road construction. On top of everything, Black Hills Bagels has have the BEST made-from-scratch bagels in the area!

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Michael Calabrese

Democrat
Business Development – Property Meld
Business Owner – Black Hills Vinyl
Campaign Website
Campaign Facebook

Many local businesses continue to struggle amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. What programs or other actions would you support in the next six months to aid economic recovery?

I support economic grants and low-interest loans to businesses that are owned and operated in South Dakota. Elevate Rapid City has been an amazing partner to many with financial challenges, but the state needs to do its part as well. We cannot afford to have our local economy gutted by closures and bankruptcy. The business owners that have chosen to build here must be supported in this time of crisis. Without them, our cities & towns become far less desirable places to live and work.

Now is the time to incentivize investment in our local communities by South Dakota residents. These have the benefit of keeping money in the community, rather than it flowing to corporate interests that are located out of state or in a foreign country. These businesses are far more likely to continue rolling profits into growing in South Dakota and creating local jobs.

What do you believe is vital to promoting quality economic growth in western South Dakota?

Western South Dakota is an amazing place to live for many reasons. Our economy is heavily anchored by tourism, and this must be recognized with any industrial development. We need to seriously weigh the environmental impact of all industrial development before projects could detrimentally affect that sector forever. Chasing short term gains when it has the potential to permanently damage the natural beauty of western South Dakota is something that I vehemently oppose.

In addition to the tourist economy, I know firsthand about the growing technology and manufacturing sectors. From the office of my tech startup employer, I see the construction of the Ascent Innovation Center. This is the exact type of development that we need to encourage to bring high paying jobs to the area, retain our promising students as they enter the workforce, and ensure our local economy will thrive in the future.

What is your favorite Black Hills Area business to support?

Wow! This question is impossible to answer, especially because so many of my friends are local business owners. To be diplomatic, I will instead list some of my favorite places in Rapid City. It certainly would not be the first time a politician sidestepped a hardball question like this. This is by no means comprehensive, but a good guide to where my constituents could have an impromptu conversation with their Senator.

In no particular order:
Kathmandu Bistro, Independent Ale House, Murphy’s, Paddy’s/Vertex, Pauly’s, Piesano’s Pacchia, Delmonico Grill, Tally’s Silver Spoon, Black Hills Bagels, The Cave Collective, Breadroot Co-Op, Pure Bean, Harriet & Oak, Heroes & Villains, Hippie Haven, Decades Vintage, Hay Camp Brewing, Lost Cabin Brewing, The Brass Rail, and many of the local food trucks & thrift stores.

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House of Representatives

Chris Johnson (Republican, Incumbent) did not return questionnaire. You will be able to vote for up to two.

Toni Diamond

Democrat
Healthcare 
Campaign Website
Campaign Facebook

Many local businesses continue to struggle amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. What programs or other actions would you support in the next six months to aid economic recovery?

As someone who once started a new business, I know the challenges and stress that brings. All the documentation that had to be completed and fees that had to be paid had me questioning if it was even worth trying to start a business. There was no one to help me figure out what forms had to be completed and it was extremely frustrating.

If elected I would review the current legislation and see how we can make it easier for new businesses to open. If there is no legislation, I will work with local business owners to draft legislation that encourages people to open a business.

What do you believe is vital to promoting quality economic growth in western South Dakota?

I believe we need to make opening a new business more desirable. I would look at seeing what incentives we could offer to attract new business. We need to be looking at businesses that will provide good quality jobs and benefits. We also need to be looking towards the future. We need businesses that will boost our economy (wind, solar and technology).

What is your favorite Black Hills Area business to support?

This is not a fair question because there is not just one business I support. I do like supporting those that give back to the community.

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Becky Drury

Republican
Retired
Campaign Website

Many local businesses continue to struggle amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. What programs or other actions would you support in the next six months to aid economic recovery?

I believe we need to look at school funding in that due to COVID attendance counts will not follow typical years. With these numbers off from last year and this year, due to children home schooling, it may take 1-3 years to shake out the correct counts. Supporting our schools and getting students back into classrooms promotes not only more successful future citizens it also allows parents to return to work, which all affects our economy now and into the future.

What do you believe is vital to promoting quality economic growth in western South Dakota?

Supporting the B-21 Raider coming to Ellsworth Air Force Base is one of the biggest economic factors we have coming to Western SD. The Raiders moving here affects our housing, schools, infrastructure, and sales tax revenues.

What is your favorite Black Hills Area business to support?

I love how the Colonial House and Black Hills Bagels revamped their business models during COVID. They are also two of my favorite places. My favorite hardware store is Ace Hardware on St. Patrick Street, they are super friendly and helpful.

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James Preston

Democrat
Healthcare Consultant, Small-Business Owner, Dad, Husband, Musician, Producer
Campaign Website
Campaign Facebook

Many local businesses continue to struggle amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. What programs or other actions would you support in the next six months to aid economic recovery?

We need to cobble together extra childcare and educational resources. Working parents have been feeling the strain and teachers are concerned. All the while, our kids keep growing and requiring developmental interactions and nourishment. Now is the time to protect our children and educators and we cannot put our heads in the sand and assume things will “automagically” get better. Frontline workers need assurance and stability that daycare providers will remain protected ‘bubbles’ and that those daycares are supplemented by the state or local groups to compensate for the increased costs of cleaning, feeding, and overall caring for our kids. I have heard multiple stories here in Rapid City of COVID shutting down daycares. When this happens, everyone loses; the kids, the providers, and the parents. It is critical that we make sure our working families and educators feel comfortable and that our daycare providers to remain solvent.    

What do you believe is vital to promoting quality economic growth in western South Dakota?

It is vital to economic growth in our area to start from the foundation. Infrastructure, healthcare, education, safety and security are the building blocks of our community’s economic growth. After we focus on the basics, we look at where the needs are and address those through the trade partners and stakeholders required to make those big decisions. We must sell our area to not just business, but the appropriate business that will help our capital markets move, pull folks from the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum out of poverty, sustainably develop long-term solutions, and develop rich, mutual trade relations. We have had a wild west attitude towards subdividing and development, so we need to carefully monitor those markets. Furthermore, we need to protect landowners from agricultural tax changes that threatens to incentivize the sell-off and fracture of many properties because the taxes are too high for folks to maintain.

What is your favorite Black Hills Area business to support?

The Black Hills Area has so many fantastic businesses that I cannot possibly identify just one! If I may modify my response to instead support an “industry,” I would vocalize support for our hospitality and arts industries since they thrive in tandem. Great local food supports the culture and morale of the community for which our artists are the heart and soul. I am constantly amazed by local talent here in the Hills including brewers, chefs, photographers, artists, and musicians. We truly live in a melting pot of creativity and expression. I love to support our local breweries and have worked alongside them over the past decade performing musically as a bass player. Currently, many artists and restaurants are hurting, and as the binding fabric of our community, now is the time to lean in and continue supporting all local restaurants and artists as we defeat this pandemic together.

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