SD State Legislature Candidate Survey: Cole Heisey
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Cole Heisey is running in the Republican primary for South Dakota State House District 12. District 12 is in southwest Sioux Falls. Heisey faces four primary opponents; Greg Jamison, Amber Arlint, Kerry Loudenslager, and Gary Schuster.
1. Tell us about yourself?
As a graduate of O’Gorman and USD, and now working as an insurance agent, I call Sioux Falls and South Dakota my home. Apart from my regular occupation, most of my remaining time and passion is spent in the several organizations I either hold leadership roles with or have membership in. I draw my most fulfillment and enjoyment while engaged in purposeful work and meeting people. In my spare time, I like to read, bowl, exercise, and spend time with family.
2. Why are you running for this office?
I’ve always felt called to serve. With everything that is happening in our country and my concern for the future, I believe I have the right principles and forward-thinking vision capable of making a positive difference in the state legislature. I think it will take a generation of courageous people to set things right and I desire to be a part of that. I won’t be on the sidelines and rely on others; I know where I stand and that I will do right by those who elect me. I want to protect our state from influences contrary to South Dakotan values.
3. What would be your top three priorities if elected?
I think many of our society’s ills have their source in the weakening familial institution, so I would support policies that strengthen families, protect parental rights, and, most importantly, children. The next thing is ensuring public safety, keeping criminals off the streets, and keeping dangerous drugs away from our communities. I also want to address how we can improve educational outcomes and increase access to medical care while keeping costs down.
4. What relevant experience would you bring to the office?
I was a manager at a small, family-owned business at my former employment before entering the insurance industry. I’ve always been a self-motivated and cooperative, participatory member of groups. I serve on a number of elected Republican party boards and am an active volunteer/member in several community service organizations. I’ve been active in politics and have seen the process by which things are legislatively accomplished and hope to bring that experience with me to Pierre.
5. Do you support tax relief for South Dakotans? If so, what type and how would you make it happen?
I sure do. We live in a rapidly changing landscape and it shouldn’t only be businesses that have to adjust, but also the state. It has to be flexible and responsive to changing circumstances. I’ve had many conversations about taxes and possible things that could be done to lessen the burden on taxpayers; I’m particularly concerned about older folks on fixed incomes. In fact, several bills have in the past been introduced to do just that. Legislation exists, the question is whether compromises can be made to give South Dakotans relief while assuring state revenues remain sufficient.
6. Housing availability has become an issue for many South Dakotans. How would you seek to make housing more affordable?
There has been an influx of people moving to the state. That, combined with supply problems and a lack of workers, has exacerbated the problem of low inventory and rising prices. I think training and expanding the workforce plays a big part, but also local governments pro-actively plan and work with builders and community leaders do as well. As more businesses start and move to the state, it’s an increasingly important issue to solve. Ultimately, we need to build more and train the people to do it. Government shouldn’t stand in the way.
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?
I think we need to look at the possibility of expanding facilities, in particular the overcrowded women’s prison, yet also take a very hard look at how we can sensibly reduce the prison population without thereby endangering the community. I don’t think simply locking people up is always the best answer. Adequate budgeting for probation and parole services is part of the solution. From my anecdotal experience, the staffing issues, in large part, arise due to staff being overworked, underappreciated, and not compensated enough. While I have no intention of supporting the kind of ‘reforms’ that have led to the explosion of crime in other states, I’m supportive of a task force to find the solutions right for South Dakota.
8. What steps should the legislature take to entice young people to remain in the state?
I think a big reason why people stay in a place is because of its employment opportunities, recreation, and culture. Growing the economy and creating higher-paying jobs capable of supporting families is a large part of that. The other side is maintaining and improving the beauty of our parks, infrastructure, and cultural attractions. Another aspect to consider is our scholarships to attend schools in the state, along with partnering with local companies for internships and apprenticeships.
9. Do you support any changes to the way elections are run in South Dakota?
To our credit, South Dakota is a model for other states to aspire to, in several ways. However, not an insignificant number have doubts about the integrity of our elections and many legitimate concerns have been voiced that touch even here at home. With the introduction of new technologies, for example, I would be supportive of 3rd party audits of voting machines and related technology, all of which would be transparent to the public. I think we have a right to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that elections are being handled correctly, and that there is a traceable chain of custody for every ballot, so we know that every ballot counted is genuine. It should be easy and accessible to vote, but hard to cheat.
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?
I agree with Gov. Noem on this. The ‘right to life’ exists from conception to the moment of natural death. I think our nation needs to start protecting the most vulnerable amongst us, the unborn. The right to life, and the value of that life, do not change based on the conditions of one’s conception. I will unequivocally stand as a voice for the voiceless.
11. What is your stance on legalized, recreational marijuana in South Dakota?
With the overwhelming vote to legalize medical marijuana use in 2020, dispensaries going up across the state, and increased access, I don’t think further expanding marijuana use/availability and cultivation in our communities is the best path. I am concerned about it getting into younger and younger hands, into our schools especially, including the effects it will have upon families and the workforce. The legislature put in a lot of work this past session to make the use of medical marijuana best work for the state. It is available for those that benefit from it. I, therefore, don’t think passing recreational is prudent for the prosperity of the state.
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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