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Get to Know the New Kid on the Block


Column originally published in the Rapid City Journal, February 23, 2020



Howdy South Dakot”y”-

Lots of perspective articles are published by local politicians in the Rapid City Journal. I’d love the opportunity to provide the play by play point of view of the recently appointed.

I’m a lifetime resident of District 35. From elementary school (Go Rapid Valley Wildcats!) to adulthood, I’ve lived in District 35. It’s my home. I went to school here, served in my first political office (RV Elementary School Student Council President 1994, thank you), was voted by Rapid City Central High School’s “Most Likely to Be on Broadway” in 2001, and opened my first business location here in 2010. Every graduation, marriage, birth and death I’ve ever experienced have been within the confines of this district.

Frame that for my statement here today.

I know the majority of my neighbors very well. They may not always be the voting majority (uh-oh for me), but they are the majority. They worry about things like quality, safe environments to raise their kids, low taxes, fair and limited government, fiscal responsibility, and protecting our Constitutional rights (freedom of speech, pursuit of happiness, ability to protect ourselves, stuff like that).

I’ve been an advocate in the state and nationally for many years. I’ve endeavored to be a passionate, logical advocate for things like economic and workforce development working closely with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce and Rapid City Mayor’s office for the past decade and learning and financial resources for kids and families in ALL environments.

I’m not a proponent of “universal pre-k” or socialist agenda. I will protect the Constitution and prevent socialism way before many rightly elected officials. However, I’ve been repeatedly accused of voting for/against things that never even crossed my desk. Is this part of the “fake news” I’ve been hearing so much about since 2016? Let me know because I’m still new here. Joking aside, it’s important to do research on any elected official instead of kowtowing to hearsay that supports a bias.

Being appointed: I had the opportunity to meet many of our representatives in DC over the past several years. Only one made a special effort to communicate with me directly and made themselves available for discussion in our nation’s capitol. That someone, South Dakotan’s know as the current governor of our state, Kristi Noem. Another gentle observation for consideration, review the bills presented by the Governor, the speeches she’s given and her true stance on sticky issues. Citizens might find they agree with a lot of what she says and does, and they also might find a way to stand behind our Governor.

Serving this legislative session: All of legislators in the Senate have been kind, supportive, and helpful to the “new kid on the block,” i.e. Senator Castleberry. Even when we disagree, it is a discourse lending to democracy and due process. Most of the legislators in the House of Representatives have been kind, supportive, and helpful. Some have been threatening, intimidating, and unkind.  I’m glad at this point I wasn’t appointed to the South Dakota House of Representatives.

Looking forward to primaries: If these happen for me this year, the biggest obstacle I face is the opposition and “disappointment” from my own party affiliations.  I’ve been threatened and defamed with voting records that have never even happened. I was offered “condolences” before my appointment was even announced, some being so convinced someone like me would never be considered. It’s truly terrifying as a hard-Republican living in District 35 since the 1980s. We should be afraid, and more motivated than ever to legislate from the Constitution, which I was sworn to do. District 35 voters may feel like you don’t matter, but you do. Your voice matters, and before some cast me too harshly, know that justice and fairness matter to me paramount.

Reach out to me for what you believe, and then when it comes time as a populace, VOTE. That is the most important component of the democratic process that we all enjoy.

I’m not someone who aspired to be a politician. I aspired to be someone who cared about the people in my community. I couldn’t care less about approval of career politicians, extremists, or zealot advocates. I care now more than ever about people who love South Dakota and want responsible government. For all of those who “don’t care about politics,” read the news. Read the bills being presented in South Dakota. Understand how much power legislators (often very well-meaning legislators) have over you and your everyday life. Speak up. Stand out. Vote.


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Jessica Castleberry for SD Senate

Jessica.castleberry@sdlegislature.gov

1010 9th Street #14

Rapid City, SD 57701