Meet Paula

Growing up on the family farm north of Flandreau, my childhood consisted of helping my sister and brothers with the chores. Whether working the cattle and hogs or baling hay and harvesting corn, hard work wasn’t an option, it was an expectation. Like many South Dakotans, the 80s farm crisis hit us hard, but we kept the farm intact, though not without experiencing serious financial hardship.  That struggle left an indelible mark on my life.  I developed a deep understanding and respect for the incredible dedication and hard work it takes to make a family farm work in South Dakota. It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. 

Inspired by my high school science teachers, I chose to study biology in college.  Following in my father and my sister's footsteps, I headed to SDSU to earn my degree.  While attending SDSU, I worked part-time as a nursing assistant at the nursing home in Brookings.  Working with the seniors in my care, I developed strong relationships with them and learned to appreciate the special concerns faced by our senior citizens.

At SDSU, I met my husband Steve. After the birth of our first daughter, Ruby, I got my teaching certificate, and spent 10 years teaching at West Central High School.  During that time our son, Tristan, was born.  Also during that time, I attended USD to get my master’s degree in Technology for Education and Training.  I lost my mother to cancer just months before I finished my degree and three years before our youngest daughter, Amelia, was born. 

Sick of seeing my friends and peers leave the profession, and tired of listening to politicians lecture on education, I decided to run for the South Dakota State Legislature in 2012.   I have served in that role for three years now, and have worked diligently for my constituents in District 9, and for all of South Dakota.  

I am running for the U.S. House because I believe it is imperative to restore opportunity and fairness to our system of government. Washington may have lost its way, but I don’t believe South Dakota has. My experience in politics has taught me that just because you might disagree with someone on a particular issue, doesn’t mean you can’t work together on issues of common ground. We need a Washington where “compromise” isn’t a dirty word, but the methodology we use to balance our country’s competing visions.   Government will never be perfect, but progress is made one step at a time. We are all in this together and we need a government that reflects that core belief.