Tim was one of first calling for new Democratic leadership

Tim was one of first calling for new Democratic leadership

Tim was among the first to call for new leadership in Congress. He did so in July 2017.

He is listed as one of 51 Democrats opposed to Nancy Pelosi serving another term as the Democratic leader. NBC News reported on Friday on the Democratic candidates demanding change in their party’s congressional leadership.

It’s a position Tim has taken, and repeated, for months. He is running a campaign based on change and fundamental reform and said Pelosi and other long-entrenched congressional leaders cannot be expected to fix the mess they helped create.

From the NBC News report: 34. Tim Bjorkman (D-SD-AL) Campaign website (3/13/2018)

“My first pledge is one I have spoken of since the day I announced my candidacy… that as South Dakota’s lone Congressman, I will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House or any other leadership position.”

Economic Development

This promise specifically involves the role that our lone congressional delegate can and should play in economic development for South Dakota communities: I promise to train each and every member of my congressional staff – 18 individuals – in economic development for South Dakota. There should be few higher or more important priorities for our sole member of Congress than helping our own communities grow and thrive.

As a lifelong rural South Dakotan, I believe that our South Dakota towns and cities remain a good place to raise families. They offer opportunities in school and community that few others enjoy, which is why my wife, Kay and I chose to raise our own family of four sons in Canistota.

But the fact is, our communities face real challenges these days: the ag economy is soft, our small businesses face stiff competition from giant online companies that have unfair tax advantages, and we lack a strong voice in Congress, which seems more interested in taking care of Wall Street than Main Street.

While the challenges rural South Dakota communities face are real, in my travels to well over 100 of our communities during this campaign, I’ve also been reminded of the strong desire of many of them to prosper and grow. These communities display the heart of South Dakota as they find ways to deliver healthcare, sustain businesses, maintain their infrastructure, and improvise to provide needed services through whatever means are available to them. Broadband and its benefits such as telemedicine, telepharmacy, and telecommuting will transform rural America in important and positive ways – but we need to keep our infrastructure strong to take advantage of them.

And yet many of our 311 South Dakota communities lack the knowledge of specific federal programs that are available to cities and towns, a fact that I learned first-hand while serving as a city attorney for several communities.

A key role that our sole representative in DC can play is to promote the vitality and livelihood of South Dakota’s communities, and also aid in the promotion and development of the entrepreneurial spirit in them so that they can continue to serve as great places to raise our families. That’s why my congressional office will serve as a clearing house and a resource for them to access federal programs, to assist entrepreneurial efforts, and work together with the State Office of Economic Development to promote South Dakota communities and their growth.

We’ve got to join in fighting alongside communities all across the state who’ve shown the spirit to not only survive but to thrive over the coming decades. And we’ll do it so they can continue to raise great children who have opportunities to remain within our borders to live, work, and raise families of their own.

Term Limits

My next promise to the people of South Dakota is one I made months ago: that I will support a Constitutional Amendment imposing Term Limits on Congress, six years in the House and twelve in the Senate, to include any service prior to the amendment’s adoption, which would send home roughly half of all incumbents as their current terms end.
Here’s the problem: Congress has an approval rating that hovers between 10 and 15%, incumbents have re-election rates of over 90%. That suggests we have a hard time firing people who we think are doing a lousy job for us. A major reason for this is that corporate and special interests supply those they control with massive amounts of PAC and other money to keep them in office.

Today we have members of Congress from both parties who have served for 30, 40, and even 50 years there. This isn’t what the founding fathers had in mind. Instead, the Constitution’s framers envisioned public servants who would “lay down their plows for a season of service” and then return to their communities to again live as one of the governed.
The reality of human nature is that the longer people spend time in Washington the less responsive they tend to be to the people who sent them there. Worse yet, those in Congress now who have been there for such a long time are taking seats in Washington that could go to new faces and a new generation of public servants with fresh ideas. It’s time for change in Washington.

I want to end the thinking that suggests that only a select few Americans can serve in Congress, and that it is a place to go to advance a career rather than a place to serve.

If a political leader is truly a wonderful public servant and wants to continue to serve, it doesn’t hurt our nation to allow that individual to sit out an election cycle, watching from the bench for awhile to regain the people’s perspective, and then seek election without the benefit of incumbency.

That’s why, in addition to other Congressional reforms I have recommended, I support term limits. It is a necessary first step to more fundamental reform in Congress, because we’re not going to reform Congress by sending and keeping career politicians there. Real change will come only from the outside.

Congressional Leadership

As a way to let voters know what I will fight to accomplish in Washington, I am making a series of promises to you of what I will do and what I won’t do as South Dakota’s lone congressman. I call it my Promises to South Dakota.

This promise has to do with our current Leadership in Congress.  No government can function well without strong leadership, and one of the key reasons that our Congress isn’t functioning well is that the leadership—in both parties—is awful.  Our government lurches from shutdown to shutdown, creating artificial crises, because Congress has mostly abandoned the discipline of enacting appropriations bills to fund government, something that requires compromise.

Major bills that repeal large pieces of the Affordable Care Act and add $1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt are passed without a single hearing, and our leaders have such contempt for each other that they rarely speak.

It’s no wonder that our federal government barely functions! Because of that, little ever gets done, and the American people pay the price for a government that doesn’t work.

So, my first pledge is one I have spoken of since the day I announced my candidacy back in July of last year: that as South Dakota’s lone Congressman, I will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House or any other leadership position.

Ms. Pelosi has been the Democratic leader for 15 highly contentious years. She represents a wealthy San Francisco district that couldn’t be more unlike South Dakota.

But the biggest reason I can’t support her is that Congress is in need of major reform and it won’t come from our current leadership.  Ms. Pelosi, along with Paul Ryan, chooses to preside over the deeply troubling Congressional Dues system which they could together abolish, but which sustains their leadership. As I’ve stated months ago, I won’t vote for anyone who maintains it.

I’ll vote for someone as leader who reflects our interests and can relate to and will be responsive to our needs.

I’ll be sharing more of my promises to South Dakota over the coming weeks.