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SD State Legislative Candidate Survey: Mark Willadsen

South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)
South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)(DAKOTA NEWS NOW)
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Mark Willadsen is running in the District 9 State Senate race. The district is located in Minnehaha County, west of Sioux Falls. He faces one primary challenger, Brent Hoffman.

Mark Willadsen is running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 9.
Mark Willadsen is running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 9.(Submitted)

1. Tell us about yourself?

Mark Willadsen, retired insurance agent.  I am married to my wife, Suzanne, of 45 years.  We have 3 grown children, all living in the Sioux Falls area, and 12 grandchildren.  Being Grandpa is the best job I have ever had.  As a small business owner, I have been heavily involved in the Sioux Falls community, belonging to the SF Area Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, (NAIFA-SD), lifelong member of First Lutheran Church, the Sioux Falls Morning Optimist Club, the 29 - 90 Sportsmans club, and various other sportsmans organizations.  I enjoy hunting, fishing, sprint car racing, NASCAR, and a little golf.

2. Why are you running for this office?

I am running for State Senate in District 9, because I was brought up to believe that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  I have served District 11 as a State Representative for 14 years and have termed out.  Now, due to redistricting, I am in District 9.  I have enjoyed my Legislative service, and I believe our system works very well.  This year, we had over 500 bills introduced, and every one of them had a public hearing.  I would appreciate the opportunity to continue serving District 9 as their State Senator.

3. What would be your top three priorities if elected?

My priorities would continue as they have been during my service in the House.  We must hold the line on taxes, while continuing to fund the priorities we are charged with, such as education, taking care of our citizens who cannot care for themselves, protecting our citizens against those who would do us harm, and providing a great place for our children to grow up and make their own lives.  We must continue to balance our budget, and live within our means.  We must provide economic development for housing, new jobs and opportunities for South Dakota made products. We must continue to provide recreational opportunities for our citizens to hunt and fish, camp, boat, and enjoy our fantastic State Park system.  We need to continue to work on slowing the “brain drain” of our best and brightest students.  I would add that I am Pro 2nd Amendment, I am the only Senate Candidate in District 9 who is endorsed by the NRA, and I have an “A” rating from the NRA.

4. What relevant experience would you bring to the office?

I believe my past experience as a legislator, small business owner, family man, hunter and fisherman have prepared me well to serve District 9 in the Senate.

5. Do you support tax relief for South Dakotans? If so, what type and how would you make it happen?

 I believe the Legislature has acted responsibly in the past.  We have held the line on taxes, while balancing the budget.  I was there during the Daugaard Administration when the economy went south and we had to vote to cut the budget and reduce spending.  As a conservative, when the requests for new projects come before the Legislature, I believe we have acted responsibly with the taxpayers money, and I believe that will continue.

6. Housing availability has become an issue for many South Dakotans. How would you seek to make housing more affordable?

The Legislature has taken this responsibility seriously.  We have had a summer study who has studied the issue and brought forth recommendations which we have acted upon, which are coming to fruition as we speak.  I would like to see things move faster, but factors such as labor shortages and material shortages, slow us down.  We need to continue our diligence in making things happen.

7. South Dakota correctional facilities have been dealing with a number of issues, most prominent among them overcrowding and staffing shortages. What would you do to help combat these issues?

The legislature is working hard on this, there are summer studies to go to work this summer on this very issue.  The Executive Board is making the appointments, and the meetings will be scheduled soon.  I have not heard yet if I have been appointed to one of the committees.

8. What steps should the legislature take to entice young people to remain in the state?

This past Session, I was one of the lead voices in the House to promote SB 54 & SB 130.  These bills were the Governor’s vision to increase the cyber security program at Dakota State University, doubling the number of graduates from the program from 400 to 800.  This is a “Public - Private” partnership, with the State, Dakota State University, City of Sioux Falls, and private partners donating land and other factors all working together.  Our students entering this program can look forward to receiving top notch educational opportunities, followed by top notch employment opportunities right here in South Dakota upon graduation.  And these jobs are paying 6 figures!  And local companies are hiring our students as fast as they can graduate!  This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to get a great education here in South Dakota, followed by a great employment opportunity, and the opportunity to stay in South Dakota and raise a family!  It is opportunities like this that are exciting for South Dakota, and I wholeheartedly support them!  This is a true “WIN-WIN” for South Dakota.

9. Do you support any changes to the way elections are run in South Dakota?

I support our State Auditor, and the County Auditors for the job they do in running our elections in an honest and dependable manner.

10. A U.S. Supreme Court decision is looming on a landmark abortion case that could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. Governor Kristi Noem has indicated she would like to ban abortion outright, and a “trigger law” already on the books would so, with only an exception in place when the mother’s life is at risk. Do you support banning abortion to this extent? If not, what exceptions would you like to see made?

In 2005, I voted FOR HB 1249, which is the “trigger law” you refer to.  I am pro-life, and I vote that way. I have a 100% rating from SD Right to Life..

11. What is your stance on legalized, recreational marijuana in South Dakota?

I am not in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.  However, it appears that it will be on the ballot in November.  IF the majority of voters vote to legalize recreational marijuana, I believe the Legislature has the duty to establish REASONABLE laws to make it happen and keep our citizens safe.

State legislative candidates in contested districts this primary season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. Candidates were asked to keep their responses limited to roughly 4-5 sentences for each question. With the exception of a quick spelling and grammar check, answers were not edited by the poster. Those who responded to the survey questions had their results posted.

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