SD Legislative Candidate Survey: Sheryl Johnson

The South Dakota State Capitol Building in Pierre.
The South Dakota State Capitol Building in Pierre.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 2:11 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Sheryl Johnson is running as a Democrat in District 11. District 11 is in southwestern Sioux Falls, with I-29 being its eastern boundary. Johnson faces incumbent Republican Jim Stalzer in the general election.

Sheryl Johnson is running as a Democrat for election to the South Dakota State Senate in...
Sheryl Johnson is running as a Democrat for election to the South Dakota State Senate in District 11.(Submitted)

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

Sheryl Johnson, running for Senate in District 11. I just retired but I am a former businesswoman, a former military wife and a former employee of the Sioux Falls School District.  I am also the mom of 4 grown daughters and grandmother of one.  After voting republican for over 30 years I realized their values no longer aligned with mine and switched to independent then a few years ago to democrat.

2. What prompted you to run for office/re-election?  

I was tired of all the culture wars going on and how our legislators wasted our time and tax dollars on issues that were NOT issues like CRT (it is NOT being taught in SD), attacking LGBTQ citizens  and micromanaging teachers and doctors.  I don’t believe it is governments job to push any religion and was angry that our legislators would overturn bills that voters passed like IM22 (the anti corruption bill) and take money that was promised to education (the lottery) and move it to the general fund for other uses.  I also am fed up with the corruption and lack of transparency going on.  Any time one party has overwhelming control it is not good for a state.  They are not listening to their voters.  Most of them don’t even go out and visit with their voters.

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

I am passionate about education.  I believe that INVESTING in education will pay so many dividends down the road.  I would like to see about getting state support for pre K.  So many voters I talked to are struggling to afford childcare and this would be one way to help.  It would also make sure kids are prepared to learn when they actually go to kindergarten.  Our children are our future and studies have proven that every dollar invested in early education pays off by decreasing social costs later on.

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?  

I do support cutting the grocery tax if it is feasible.  I have always thought we should not tax fresh fruits and vegetables to encourage people to eat healthier.  I thought once we were able to tax online sales they were supposed to reduce the grocery tax.  If anything perhaps we can reduce it bit by bit to offer some relief until it is totally eliminated.   (Why are we paying the background checks for gun owners?  If they can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for guns they can afford to pay the background check and many gun owners have agreed with me on this.)

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?

This is a privacy and medical issue that should be between a woman, her family and her doctor.  I don’t believe in giving the government the power to force women to have children.  That would also give them the power to prevent women from having children.  I also don’t believe the government should be involved in micromanaging doctor’s decisions.  We are going to have women dying because doctors are hesitant to do the required care for fear of losing their licenses.

At the very least I would make exceptions for rape, incest and medical issues and possibly allow it up until a certain week.   If we are truly ‘pro-life’ we would do a better job supporting families by providing affordable health care including prenatal care.  We would help make child care affordable and do what we can to lift families out of poverty.

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

If it passes I will support it and work to make it as safe as possible.

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

I think integrity, honesty and the ability to listen and learn is vital for an elected official.  I have learned so much from talking to voters over the past several months.  It is always eye opening to hear why someone has a different opinion and be open to changing your position and compromise if needed.  I have told the voters I’ve talked to that we won’t agree on everything but I will listen and respect their view even if I don’t agree with it.  I will represent ALL the people of my district not just those who think like me.

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

During the 8 months my husband was deployed during Desert Storm I gained an enormous respect for single parents.  Parenting a two year old on my own was exhausting.  I am inspired everyday by military spouses and other single parents that are raising their kids on their own. They sacrifice so much and do the very best they can while often never getting time for themselves.  They are some of the strongest people I know.

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.