SD Legislative Candidate Survey: Jessica Meyers

The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre at sunrise.
The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre at sunrise.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 11:59 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Jessica Meyers is running as a Democrat for the South Dakota State Senate in District 12. District 12 is made up of a portion of southwest Sioux Falls, with its western boundary being I-29. Meyers faces Republican Arch Beal in the general election, who is running for the State Senate after being termed out of the State House.

Jessica Meyers is running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 12.
Jessica Meyers is running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 12.(Submitted)

1. Who are you? Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less.

Raised in Winner, SD Jessica Meyers’ roots are solidly South Dakotan. After graduating from Vermillion High School and earning her degree at SDSU, Jessica and her husband Matt left the small towns of SD for 10 years and resettled in Sioux Falls. She is co-founder and CEO of PorchLight, a talent recruitment firm that partners with rural communities to prepare for the 21st-century workforce and is the hub to connect rural workers to employment opportunities. In addition to developing her business, she serves as the President of the Transformation Project, a trans advocacy nonprofit based in South Dakota.

2. What prompted you to run for office?

I’ve always paid attention to politics.  As the political temperature has been turned up in South Dakota I knew it was time to get involved.  The state legislature is spending its limited time on wedge issues that don’t exist here and undoing votes that has the majority of the popular vote.  As I have met with thousands of my neighbors in D12 there is one topic that we all agree on, the political climate needs to settle down.

3. What public policies are you passionate about? What would your policy priorities be in Pierre?

South Dakota has a unique opportunity right now to focus on who we want to be for the next generation of workers.  With the expansion of broadband and the reshuffling of employment, we can position ourselves to be a regional hub for many industries while supporting our rural communities.  Another issue that will need to be discussed quickly is the daycare crisis in South Dakota.  This issue alone has a larger impact on families, specifically the families that live close to the margins, and we need to take a closer look at licensing and funding options across the board.

4. Cutting the grocery tax has become central to this election cycle. Do you think that the legislature should cut the grocery tax next legislative session? Is there any taxes you would cut instead, or in addition to?

There has been a group of legislators, mostly Democrats, that have been working on repealing this tax for 6 years.  For the 3rd year in a row, the state put taxpayer dollars into a savings account, last session the number was $110 million. The grocery tax is something that every single person pays and would have the most impact on helping struggling families put food on the table.  When in Pierre, I would like to take a look at where our tax dollars are really going before listing any other tax cuts.

5. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier in the year. South Dakota currently has a law that prevents abortion almost completely outright. Are there any exceptions you would like to see the legislature enact? What other laws would you like to see passed to support mothers and families?

The last place anyone needs the government is a medical appointment. The state has voted twice to have significantly softer abortion laws in the state and the trigger law is far too strict for this state. I would leave all medical decisions up to medical professionals who have science to support their decisions that best serve their patients.

6. Recreational marijuana is on the ballot in November. If it passes, would you commit to legalizing it?

Absolutely. We as a state already voted yes on it in 2020, by 54% and now it’s on the ballot again.  We are not the first state to legalize Marijuana nor will be the last and the most important lesson from this, is that the state legislature has to listen and uphold the will of the people at the ballot box.

7. What is the most important quality for an elected official to possess?

The most important quality for an elected official is to be representative of all of the people in their district.  Being available and willing to have a conversation, regardless of political affiliation, is crucial to the success of the state. Legislators can’t live in a bubble and talking with people who don’t agree with them is required in state government. We are watching what happens when either side of the political spectrum goes to its corners and refuses to work across the aisle.  South Dakotans are smart reasonable people and deserve legislators that represent the people and not just a rubber stamp to the Party.

8. Who do you take inspiration from, and why?

My children.  Our three daughters are coming of age in a world post 9/11 and perfectly Gen Z.  They are fierce, stand up for themselves, and aren’t waiting in line to get things done and I wish I had that kind of confidence at 20, 16, and 13.  My oldest is also a part of the largest voting bloc in the state of 18-29-year-olds.  It’s crucial that this influential group not only has representation that hears their needs and is doing everything it can to get them engaged in the political process but getting them a seat at the decision-making table.

State legislative candidates in contested districts this election season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. 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.