EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two profiles of the candidates running for the South Dakota State Senate in District 18. Voting is currently underway; Election Day is Nov. 3.
NAME: Jordan Foos
FAMILY: Wife — Rebecca; Daughter — Natalie; Son — Watson
EDUCATION/OCCUPATION: Director of Campus Ministry, Mount Marty University; B.A. in Biology, Mount Marty University; M.A. in Ministry, Creighton University (expected graduation, Dec. 2020)
ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL/ORGANIZATIONAL EXPERIENCE: I have served on Mount Marty’s Mission Committee for a number of years. In this role, I work with others to ensure that the diverse community of Mount Marty — be it through academic efforts, athletic pursuits, the fine arts, and more — is working toward fulfilling the institution’s mission.
• Why are you running?
As a lifelong South Dakotan, I am running because of my deep affection for the people and places of South Dakota, a homeland I am eager to serve. More particularly, as a parent with young children, I have come to more intimately understand the needs of families. As such, I will speak for families in Pierre, advocating for things like affordable healthcare and childcare. Additionally, I will advocate for sustainable ways of living that ensure future generations have clean air, clean water, and a stable climate. Another central motivation for me is advocating for those on the margins, such as those living below the poverty line, as I believe the best measure of a community is how well it takes care of those who are often forgotten.
• How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect your priorities in Pierre?
I believe that, if we desire the days ahead to be as smooth as possible, we must bring the force of our entire attention on the current health crisis. Until we manage this crisis, it will hobble all the other dreams we might have about what state government can do. Depending on the state of the crisis during the 2021 legislative session, I would prioritize aiding our healthcare communities, ensuring that we have adequate resources for testing and contact tracing. Relatedly, I will prioritize aiding those most impacted by the pandemic—small business owners, those recently laid off because of the pandemic, etc. We need to recognize the sacrifice these folks have made by ensuring we are supporting them during this time.
• If elected, what are your plans regarding education in the coming sessions?
Our current crisis reminds us how essential our educational institutions are to the functioning of our communities. It’s been laid bare that, beyond offering children knowledge, our schools are places where children receive emotional, physical, and spiritual enrichment. Indeed, for many children, our schools are critical in providing basic needs such as food. Education is a way to help our young people unlock their gifts — be that a gift for teaching, welding, tending to the sick as a nurse, etc. — and, thus, is a way to add dignity to the life of our young people. So, even in non-pandemic times, we must ensure that discussions about education funding are present from the beginning of the budgeting process and don’t wait until the end of the session.
• What can be done to mitigate the state’s revenue shortfall?
As with any budgeting process, areas of efficiency should be explored. Is there anywhere money is being poorly spent? In the same breath, we should be careful not to eliminate government services under the guise of efficiency simply because we might have an ideological opposition to a particular service. In the short term, we should encourage our federal delegation to explore ways that the federal government might help plug holes in the state budget; as many economists seem to think, the economic pain will likely last longer if we don’t explore such stimulus. In the longer term, we should explore new opportunities for revenue. To this end, I would like state government to further pursue things like the responsible development of the state’s renewable energy sector.
• Additional thoughts?
Though we have faced some difficult days, I am incredibly excited for what lies ahead. No doubt we are presented with many challenges, but I believe if we focus on building up bonds of mutual trust, if we remind ourselves that our fates are tied up with one another — no matter our political party — if we focus more on problem-solving and less on ideology, we can build communities of health and beauty. If we allow it to, I think government can be a force for good, creating the conditions where all can thrive. I am eager to continue listening to the dreams of Yankton area residents, moving together toward a future of peace and solidarity.