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On the ballot
Ahlers wants to return to Pierre

September 25. 2012 3:12PM
District: District 25 Senate
Party: Democrat
City of residence: Dell Rapids
Family: Wife, Amy; sons Jackson, 5, and Aaron 1.5
Occupation: Small business owner
State legislative experience: 2007-08 SD House of Representatives, 2009-10 SD State Senate.

What made you decide to run for office?
Many people have approached me over the last year encouraging me to run. I believe in the importance of public service. We have a lot of important issues, such as education funding, that require people to be willing to address these tough challenges.

What are your thoughts on HB1234, concerning teacher merit pay and school funding?
HB 1234 is a one-size-fits-all approach to education. I have owned businesses in several small communities. While the communities were very similar in size and geography, the customer needs were very different. Similarly, each school has its own set of needs. One school may need a science teacher while another is short on elementary school teachers. Finally, this bill is a demonstration of poor leadership.
When one wants to make a fundamental change to an institution, like HB1234 does to education, the people affected should be involved in the process. This didnít happen until after the bill was introduced.

What are your ideas to bring economic development to small towns such as Baltic and Valley Springs?
As a small business owner, I understand how difficult it is to start a business in a small community. Instead of creating a financial incentive for only large projects, South Dakota could focus more small business development. Our state has MICRO and REDI loan programs available for business expansion and gaining working capital, but the state offers very little for small business creation.

What do you think are other tough issues facing your district?
We need to address our infrastructure needs. Our district has bridges and roads in need of repair or replacement. We also face challenges with our increasing Medicaid needs. Aside from national healthcare reform, we have an aging population we will have to serve. Our reimbursement rates to physicians need to be addressed. The reimbursement rates are so low, physicians are refusing new clients.
Anything else you would like voters to know?
I think the people in our district deserve better representation. We need people willing to address the difficult challenges we face as a state. Our citizens deserve open and honest government. Recently, the Center for Public Integrity rated South Dakota as second worst in the nation for state integrity. We need more accountability for our public officials. Finally, if the people choose to send me to Pierre, our district will have someone who is willing to work to find solutions to our most difficult challenges and wonít put his party before the people of his district.

Dan Ahlers

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