We must reform Congress

We must reform Congress

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.
Here is my 1st Promise to South Dakota: I will represent the people, not the special interests.
I believe the fundamental question to be answered in this election is this: Does the government represent wealth? Or does it represent We the People? Is it Government of, by, and for the People? Or of, by, and for Wall Street? Are we two nations, or one nation in which everyone has a chance to succeed?
I want to be a part of restoring it to a government of, by, and for the People. So, I will also fight for these fundamental reforms:
1. Enacting a Congressional Term Limits Amendment;
2. Ending the deeply troubling Congressional Dues System, in which members pay dues to their parties to serve on committees of their choice;
3. Prohibiting members from raising money while Congress is in session;
4. Requiring Congress to live by the same insurance coverage as the average American, eliminating low cost Capitol Hill medical services that the rest of America lacks; and
5. Prohibiting a member of Congress from employment in firms that employ lobbyists for five years after leaving office.
Dusty has declined to tell the voters whether he intends to participate in the congressional dues system if he is elected. Importantly, he hasn’t rejected it, nor has he joined me in signing the term limit pledge that I signed a year ago. He first didn’t support Senate term limits at all. After I pointed that out he has taken the vague position of calling for them but not stating how many terms he believes should be enough. More wishy-washy political talk.
I will support a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on Congress, six years in the House and 12 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 percent, incumbents have re-election rates of over 90 percent. 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.
Real change will come only from the outside.
South Dakota can send a ripple across America by electing a person who refuses to participate in the big money campaign process so we can begin to reform Congress. These are the first steps to restoring government of, by, and for the People. If we continue to venerate and elect the candidate who raises the largest war chest and conducts politics as usual, let’s stop decrying big money in politics.

Tim to tour state in closing days of campaign for change

Tim to tour state in closing days of campaign for change

Tim is a runner, and he’s ready for a closing sprint to wrap up this campaign to bring change and fundamental reform to Congress.
Starting Thursday, Nov. 1, Tim will caravan across South Dakota, making multiple stops in different cities to meet with supporters and hold rallies. The tour will conclude with a rally in Sioux Falls on Monday, Nov. 5.
He will conduct media interviews, speak at rallies and meet with voters to discuss the campaign and why he can deliver the change that is needed in Congress.
Locations and times, which are subject to change, are as follows:
Thursday, Nov. 1:
10:30 a.m. – Madison Public Library, 209 Center St E, Madison
12:30 p.m. – Cottonwood Bistro, 1710 6th St, Brookings
3 p.m. – Redlin Arts Center, 1200 33rd St. NW, Watertown
6:30 p.m. – Brown Co. Democratic Office, 220 S. Main St, Aberdeen

Friday, Nov. 2:
10 a.m. – Huron Campaign HQ, 1459 Dakota Ave S, Huron
5 p.m. – Fork Real, 324 Saint Joseph St, Rapid City

Saturday, Nov. 3
1 p.m. – Cornerstone Coffee House, 123 E. 3rd Ave, Mitchell
4 p.m. – Location TBA, Yankton

Monday, Nov. 5:
Location and time TBA, Sioux Falls

Reporters are welcome to arrange interviews with Tim, a fifth-generation South Dakotan and former circuit court judge, and are invited to ride along during parts of the caravan.
For more information, contact field coordinator Kaleb Peterson at 605-553-4975 or kaleb@timbjorkman.com or communication director Tom Lawrence at 605-789-1605 or tom@timbjorkman.com.

Tim details goals at congressional forum

Tim details goals at congressional forum

Tim detailed his goals for South Dakota during a forum in Sioux Falls on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
He described the challenges the state and nation face and what steps he would take to address them. Tim also sounded a note of optimism, saying South Dakota was a place dear to his heart.
“We have one of the greatest places on the face of the earth to raise a family,” he said.
But there is a lot of work to be done to preserve that, Tim said, including providing affordable healthcare for all, fixing the broken criminal justice system to return people to the workforce and restoring government to We the People, not the special interests who dominate it now.
Tim took part in a congressional forum sponsored by Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota, as did Republican Dusty Johnson, Libertarian George Hendrickson and independent Ron Wieczorek. About 100 people attended the event at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, which also was streamed live on the AFP Facebook page.
Augustana University Government and International Affairs/Political Science assistant professor Dr. Emily Wanless moderated the forum. All but the last question were written by her students, she said; she drafted the final one.
Tim said healthcare is the most pressing issue facing the nation.
“It has its tentacles all through government costs,” he said.
The answer is a bipartisan solution that obtains broad consensus to repair the system, he said. It would reduce spending and help balance the national budget while also reducing the burden on law enforcement.
Lack of access to healthcare is the “chief driver” in sending people to prison, Tim said. It helps explain why South Dakota’s prison population has grown at 30 times the rate of the state’s population.
A failed effort to clean up the problem by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, undertaken when Dusty Johnson served as his chief of staff, is an example of how government has failed to address and correct the problem, which only can be done by providing treatment appropriate for the needs of troubled people, Tim said.
Until that happens, law enforcement agencies will be burdened and taxpayers will have to cover the costs of these failed government choices.
Tim, who served on the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Parole, said 90 percent of South Dakota’s prison inmates have substance abuse issues. In addition, two-thirds failed to obtain a high school diploma and 68 percent did not grow up in a home with a father present.
It’s that cycle of unstable family lives, addiction, untreated mental illness and crime that has harmed the state and helped convince Tim to step down from his post as a circuit court judge to run for Congress.


During the 90-minute forum, he discussed how these problems have arisen and how they can be handled.
“Crime’s biggest enemy is a stable home, an education and job skills,” Tim said.
Methamphetamine has been “a scourge on our state,” he said. Meth has fueled a spike in crime and its production, distribution and use must be attacked and reduced.
But South Dakota has failed to address these concerns.
“It’s a fundamentally broken system,” Tim said. “It’s been used as a political football for far too long.”
Asked about the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” Tim said it was a “very imperfect first step” to address a problem that has existed for more than a century.
The primary problem, he said, is the inflated cost of health care, double what other developed nations pay for their care, because corporations, especially Big Pharma and Big Insurance, are making Americans pay far too much.
The cost of healthcare is $1.5 trillion annually. That should be cut in half, he said.
“That would about balance our budget even with the reckless spending we’ve seen this year,” Tim said. “We’re paying dearly for it. We can do it much more efficiently.”
He said it’s crucial the state has a strong advocate for family farmers and ranchers and he wants to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture.
Tim said he had consistently warned of the dangers of the trade war sparked by tariffs.
“I believe in free trade, but only if it’s fair trade,” he said.
Damaging trade relations will have a long-term impact, he said.
“Once they get severed, they’re very, very difficult to reestablish,” Tim said. “We’re going to see repercussions all across the Midwest.”
All this has caused great economic harm to farmers and ranchers, he said, with soybean producers losing $600 million off a crop of 270 million bushels due to the sharp decline in prices. More will face difficulties in the spring when they seek operating loans, Tim said.
As many as one in three may find banks declining to provide them with such capital, he said.
Tim has three more opportunities to face Johnson. They will debate the issues at the City Centre Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls at noon Monday, Oct. 22, in an event sponsored by the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary.
They will meet again on Thursday, Oct. 18, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, with the event taking place at the SDPB Black Hills Studio, 415 Main St. in Rapid City. It’s set for 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, 8 p.m. Central.
Their final debate will take place the next day, Friday, Oct. 19, at the KELO-TV studio, 501 S. Phillips Ave. in downtown Sioux Falls, at 7 p.m. Central time, 6 p.m. Mountain.

Tim clear winner in State Fair Debate

Tim clear winner in State Fair Debate

HURON—Tim Bjorkman was the clear winner at the South Dakota State Fair Congressional Debate in Huron on Sunday afternoon.

Tim was declared the winner by about a 2-1 margin in a KSFY online poll, by Dr. David Ernest, head of the USD Political Science Department, who served as KSFY’s analyst — and judging from the applause that greeted Tim’s responses.

Tim called for South Dakotans to cooperate to solve problems — and to elect him to help lead reform in Washington, D.C.
“America works best when we work together,” he said in his opening remarks.
Tim said he would be an advocate for Social Security, farmers and all South Dakotans. He said the deep problems in Washington won’t be fixed by another professional politician. Instead, reform and change is needed.
Tim said by refusing all special interest money and running as a bipartisan newcomer to politics, he would provide a fresh voice in Congress.
“I will be, most of all, a strong independent voice for South Dakota and for all of you there,” he said. “I’m not happy with the way Congress has been running, and I don’t think you are, either. Let’s try something different.”
Tim said he would work from the middle of the political aisle, and would act to represent South Dakota.
The 90-minute debate touched on numerous issues as the four candidates for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives fielded questions from KSFY anchor Brian Allen, who served as moderator. They also made brief opening and closing statements.
The debate started with a discussion of tariffs, an issue Tim has repeatedly focused on this summer.
“I’ve been a steady, unwavering opponent of trade barriers imposed by tariffs,” he said.
He said trade wars ”start in one sector and spread like wildlife” and never end well. Tim said Congress must reassert its control over trade, a point he made before these new tariffs were imposed.
Republican Dusty Johnson disagreed then, he noted, although he has come around to some of Bjorkman’s positions. South Dakota’s congressional delegation has been largely silent, he said.
Tim noted there are two Farm Bills, with the version that emerged from the House of Representatives a highly partisan bill that benefits the wealthy and corporations at the expense of family farmers, young farmers and veterans who want to get started and conservation. Johnson favors that version,Tim noted, while he supports the Senate version, which is better for all.
“It will damage small communities,” he said, saying the House bill had come “directly out of the swamp.”
Tim said the economy has been tilted to favor the wealthy and that must be corrected.
“One family has the same worth as 130 million Americans,” he said, largely because of tax laws and other policies that favor the few.
“The first thing we have to do is get government spending under control,” Tim said. “We’re going incredibly, deeply into debt. We need to support working families, and not cut their Social Security and Medicare. We need to stand up for working families again.”
He said there are short-term and long-term problems with our immigration system.
“We’re using immigration, legal and illegal, to paper over a problem that 12 million of our fellow Americans are not in the workforce,” he said.
Tim said the workforce would be strengthened by helping people who are out of the system due to mental illness, addiction or other problems. The state has failed to provide available care, he said.
“Why haven’t we taken advantage if the federal held we’ve always been offered through Medicare expansion?” he said.
He said decisions made by the Daugaard administration, with Johnson serving as chief of staff, prevented people from getting the help they needed, turning away $300 million annually, tax dollars we had sent to Washington. He said he witnessed the impact of that when he was a circuit court judge.
Tim said he wanted to see the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election continue. Special counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to complete his work and present a well-researched report to allow Americans to understand what happened.
“I have a deep respect for the rule of law,” he said. “Let the facts and the law be addressed. Justice is best served in that way.”
He said Johnson, who also supported a continuation of the investigation, is well aware of the interference, since he introduced Russian agent Maria Butina to a group of teenage Republicans in South Dakota, unaware of her mission in this country.
Asked how to reduce the nation’s $22.5 trillion debt, Tim said the tax cuts that were imposed in 2017, he recognized, “as an old tax lawyer,” that they would pile up more debt and largely benefit the wealthy. Johnson said he now favors finding reductions — but he supported the tax cuts then.
“This is what is wrong with Washington,” Tim said. “You can’t have it both ways.”
He said he would cut spending but protect Social Security. Johnson has indicated he supports reductions in Social Security, he said.
Tim said “it would be a huge mistake” to send private contractors to Afghanistan instead of American troops. In fact, involvement in wars around the world is a mistake in general, he said.
“We need to start investing in our neighbors, in their healthcare, in their education, in their lives,” Tim said.
He said the United States must support our ally, South Korea, and tread carefully when dealing with North Korea. Quoting President Ronald Reagan,Tim said we must “trust but verify” any agreement with that outlaw nation.
On abortion, Bjorkman, who has a pro-life stance, said he has been consistent on his views.
“I have been convinced my entire adult life that the unborn child is a human being,” he said.
Tim said we have done a poor job of taking care of vulnerable life both before and after birth and that must be corrected.
“We need to have a whole life pro-life view,” he said.
Tim said he supported continuing to provide healthcare coverage to people if they have a pre-existing medical condition, having seen people suffer and, in one case, die because of hassles with an uncaring process.
“We don’t want to return to those days,” he said. “We can do better. We cannot have people denied that coverage. It’s too crucial.”
Tim said he favored reasonable and intelligent solutions to reduce gun violence. He noted 60 percent of gun deaths are suicides, and 90 percent of those people suffer from mental illness. There is a growing need for a national effort to treat mental illness, he said, and to reduce access to items like bumpstocks, which can convert a rifle into a mass-murder weapon.
He said he was opposed to banning the use of weapons made from models downloaded off the internet, since it is already happening, while admitting it was a troubling issue.
Tim said when dealing with energy issues, we “have to first be honest with real science. It’s overwhelming that climate change is real, and is human-made and effecting the planet.”
He said he supports clean science, such as solar panels, both for environmental issues and to drive our economy.
Tim favored allowing driverless vehicles on the road, as did all four candidates. He said research and a steady, step-by-step process to create an efficient and safe system is the answer.
Tim said if elected, he would consider his term a success by being a voice and vote for reform, by standing up for Social Security, healthcare and against the special interests that control Congress.
“We need to bring down the costs of healthcare and we need to make sure it’s available to all men, women and children,” he said.
Republican Johnson, Libertarian George Hendrickson and independent Ron Wieczorek also took part in the 90-minute debate, broadcast live on KSFY and live-streamed on KSFY.com. It was held before a large audience at the State Fair’s Freedom Stage and is available at KSFY.com.
For more information, go to timbjorkman.com.