Your voices still matter

In a day and age when we have to wonder if politicians listen to us at all it was refreshing to see what happened last week when two attempts by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks to build more campgrounds in Custer State Park crashed and burned, preserving our beautiful gem of a park and leaving it just as it is.
Why did this happen? You.
We have no doubt when the state first came up with the idea to build a new campground in the park they figured it would be an innocuous request that would be rubber stamped by the legislature and put on the fast track to construction. The people of South Dakota had other ideas.
To a man (and woman), South Dakota legislators were overwhelmed with the feedback they got from residents of the state regarding the possible campgrounds. Your voices were heard loud and clear, and they were screaming a resounding no. Some legislators said they received as many as 1,500 emails on the subject, with nearly all of them in favor of the proposed campground along Wildlife Loop Road, and then again opposed to the smaller campground that was sought near Stockade Lake.
You spoke, and your elected officials listen. That’s how our government is supposed to work, even if it seems like most of the time what we tell them goes in one ear and out the other.
Of course, our elected officials can’t please all the people all of the time, and they don’t have time to take a straw poll on what everybody thinks about every subject that comes before them. That’s why we have elected officials: to make decisions in the best interest of all of us. What this groundswell regarding the campgrounds showed, however, is that there is strength in numbers, and we can still steer the ship when we are called to the occasion. We have to figure some of the legislators who voted against the campgrounds would have voted to give Gov. Kristi Noem and the Game, Fish and Parks what they wanted had it not been for the voices yelling no from every corner of the state. Instead, they did what they asked. That’s a victory for everyone.
There are plenty of examples of our elected officials thumbing their nose at the will of the people and what they want. We have several elections worth of results that you could point at to drive that point home. But this time, we came out in droves, and they had no choice but to listen. A job well done to them, and a job well done to all of you for using your voice and being heard.
This legislative session isn’t over, but let’s hope our elected officials continue to do what the majority of their constituents want. After all, it’s we who put them there.

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