Since we began our Smart Bitches for Theresa Spry campaign only a week ago, we have raised a total of $898.00. Based on our initial research online, which I included in the original entry, we both liked Ms. Spry’s positions, which is why we chose to back her campaign. I hope that the money we raised can contribute to her success in meaningful and frankly ginormous ways.
However, finding additional information about a state candidate in South Dakota? Darn difficult. I couldn’t even find a poll or rough estimate of where folks in her district stand. So Candy and I decided, let’s interview her! I called Ms. Spry, who was very confused to hear from a total stranger raising money for her but who was also very gracious and kind, and asked if she’d be willing to answer some questions.
So, since so many of you joined us in giving Ms. Spry our support, I thought you might like an extended interview wherein Candy and I picked a few issues and asked her to tell us more about her campaign.
Sarah & Candy ask: According to your site at womenrun.org, over 90,000 South Dakotans are without health care. In a state with 775,000 residents, according to the Census, that’s a sizeable percentage. How did you arrive at that number, and why is there a health care crisis in South Dakota?
Are Native Americans disproportionately hit by this crisis, and if yes, why is that?
Finally, what steps can be taken to improve the situation?
90,000 South Dakotans are with out health care coverage, 17,000 are children. This number was obtained in a report in the Rapid City Journal also from the SD Health Dept.
We have a crisis in heath care for many reasons, none that are acceptable. We have a large aging and elderly population. We also have a significant poor and single parent population and of those who live in poverty 1/3 are children. We have one of the highest working women rates in the country. We are a right to work state. Our poverty threshold is at 150%. We are a very rural state and access to health care services requires transportation and travel.
Solutions to our health care crisis would be to have a State Insurance Pool that by being a group (South Dakotans, numbers) those who are insurable and can afford coverage including supplemental coverage could afford to buy it. This would also aid small businesses including agriculture and seasonal industry. It would also give our small population numbers buying power. Because we have an aging population, most seniors live on fixed income and any rise in costs of any kind most affect them and others who have fixed incomes. Medicare has steadily reduced its coverage. An insurance pool would supplement and give many people buying power for care coverage and prescriptions.
Being vastly rural is an issue for accessibility to health care. We need to have incentive to college students who want to go into the health care profession with a pay back of service to health facilities, clinics and hospitals in our rural community and places of need. This would also grow quality jobs for South Dakota from within.
One of the main reasons we have so many working mothers is they must work to provide health insurance for their families by providing either the second income or coverage from their jobs’ benefits. Those in poverty would be best served by a living wage and the poverty threshold being raised to 300%. This would lower the income guidelines and qualify more children and those in need to receive Medicaid. The cost to the state would be $0.30 on the dollar with the state recouping $0.70 on the dollar from Medicaid. This would be a win/win situation for all. We have the ability to address this crisis and there are many other options but we lack the vision and leadership to make it happen.
Sarah & Candy ask: What is your stance on abortion? Fully pro-choice? Pro-life with exceptions for rape and incest?
My background is in Family Planning and Education. Womenrun.org has more of my bio information and background. I believe that we must be provided with the most and best knowledge, information, education and support to make life decisions. We need the tools to understand who we are and what our options are for contraception, conception, child birth, our life cycles, life skills and parenting.
We can then make informed decisions for ourselves about whether we want to have children and if we are capable and ready to have children and capable of nurturing, caring, supporting and understanding what life long commitment and responsibility parenting children is based on our own cultures and beliefs and what is right for each woman.
No one else has the right to make your personal decision of who you can and want to be. We would have far fewer abortions if we provided these services and respected our diversity and gender. If you don’t want an abortion then don’t have one. My life decisions are my own and I believe that everyone has that same right. Yes, I’m pro-choice.
Rape and incest are unconscionable criminal acts. These criminal acts need a higher consequence in law and much more effort put into prevention. The decision to birth children from these acts are decisions for the individual women to make themselves.
Sarah & Candy ask: Everyone seems to agree that one of the biggest problems with schools is retaining talented, dedicated teachers. What sorts of incentives/solutions do you have in mind?
South Dakota has one of the lowest paying salaries scales for teachers in the country. Our state legislature refuses to make teacher pay a priority. We are in the top 1/3 of the country for student competency. Pay the teachers. They have proven their worth in South Dakota. The ability to do this is attainable but we need the vision and a supportive legislature to prioritize Education and make it reality.
Sarah & Candy ask: One of the complaints we’ve often heard in the media is that the east and west coasts seem to ignore the middle states. As a political candidate in South Dakota, what issues would you like brought to national attention?
Because of our small population in South Dakota, I feel our contributions to the country are sometimes overlooked. The issues that should have national attention are:
Support of Farmers and Agriculture. The Drought. Poverty in the extreme case and the counties that continue to have disparities that is beyond any in this country. Some of these counties are on the First Nations who have treaties with the United States Government that need to be respected and honored. A living Wage. Bring jobs back to the United States. South Dakota has a future if we are visionary and innovative. Our largest resource is our children and communities; we need to grow South Dakota so they can continue to live and prosper in South Dakota.
Sarah & Candy ask: When you’re not campaigning for state senate, what books do you enjoy? Could you give us a few titles of books you’ve enjoyed recently?
I am an avid reader. I read a lot of political books, political material and resource material.
I read dailies, weeklies and many magazines. For my enjoyment, I try to stay up on local authors and I love mysteries. Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown and Lillian Braun’s The Cat Who… are favorites. Yes, I also love cats, dogs, kids, friends and family. I may even some time down the road have a book or two in me. Maybe a romance.
Again, My sincerest Thanks for all your support and help.
Theresa Spry, Senate — District 35