I grew up in central South Dakota, splitting time between Fort Pierre and Pierre. Ours was a working class family, and with five kids total, times weren’t always easy. We struggled from the same problems and pitfalls many working class folks do, but I learned from those experiences.
I got my first job at 14 and opened my first business at age 16. After high school, I attended USD in Vermillion, where I met Jacquelyn, my wife. After graduate school in Kansas, we knew it was time to move home.
SERVING THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH DAKOTA
I helped run the Republican Office in Mitchell during the 2002 election. Shortly after, newly-elected Governor Mike Rounds asked me to join his policy staff in Pierre. Governor Rounds taught me a great deal, and when I asked him about running against an 18-year incumbent for a seat on the Public Utilities Commission, he gave me the best piece of advice I have ever received: “work hard and be yourself.”
With a lot of help from friends across the state, we won that PUC race. In my tenure, our state saw hundreds of megawatts of new electrical generation, more than 100 new cell towers, and assistance provided to thousands of consumers.
After winning re-election in 2010, I prepared to serve another six-year term on the Commission. Governor Daugaard had other plans, however. The week after the election, facing a $127 million deficit, he asked me to serve as his chief of staff, overseeing much of state government.
I decided to answer the Governor’s call because it was important to serve citizens where I could do the most good.
THE PRIVATE SECTOR
After twelve years in state government, I wanted to return to the challenges of the private sector. Luckily, there was a good opportunity close to home. The leaders at Vantage Point Solutions, a 200-person strong telecommunications engineering and consulting firm based in Mitchell, wanted me to come on board.
It was a perfect match. As Vice President, I got to help 400 of our nation’s rural telecommunications companies make good decisions and deploy fiber, allowing them to bring broadband to their rural communities.
MY REAL LIFE
Working in Mitchell has allowed me to spend more time at home, become more involved in our community, our church, and in Abbott House. A while back I took a mission trip to Haiti, which gave me a greater-than-ever appreciation for what we have in this country. I’ve also spent more time with Jacquelyn and the boys, of course. Max is 18, Ben is 15, and Owen is 11. We love the outdoors, whether hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, or biking. We also do a lot of wrestling, reading, and laughing. It’s a pretty good life.
I’m an optimist. I agree with Ronald Reagan that America is the world’s “last, best hope.” We’re filled with many of the world’s smartest and hardest working people. Our economy is the world’s largest. We have the freedoms that billions across the world long for. Our best days can still be ahead of us, but improvement requires action.