Judy Clark is candidate for District 17 Senate Senate office Judy Clark by David Lias A Vermillion woman with experience in the South Dakota House of Representatives announced her intentions to return to Pierre � as a member of the state Senate serving District 17.
Judy Clark formally kicked off her candidacy at a Tuesday evening open house at the Silver Dollar Restaurant.
"I want to go back to Pierre because I know there are certain things I would like to accomplish," she said in an interview Monday. "I know there are people who talk, and there are people who do. I think I am one of the people � based on my experience � who do, and I can think if I can go back to Pierre, I probably will have a good chance of accomplishing the issues that I think are important.�
Longevity pay for university employees, the allocation of Deadwood Fund dollars, and the Children of Alumni Scholarship are key topics Clark would like to address in the Legislature.
"It has never been clear to me why state employees who work for the university should not have longevity pay as do state employees who work in other parts of the state government," she said. "It's a question of respect for the employees, and the fact that if you want to keep good people, you should reward them for staying on.�
Clark said historic preservation throughout South Dakota would benefit with a readjustment of the allocation of the Deadwood Fund.
In the fall of 2000, a majority of South Dakotans agreed that Deadwood should be able to increase the betting limits in its casinos from $5 to $100.
That city has reaped the awards of gambling since 1988. The bet increase includes putting some of the extra funding raised in Deadwood in a fund to benefit all of South Dakota.
A majority of those extra funds � approximately $6.5 million annually � however, are enjoyed by Deadwood, she said.
"As much as I'm in favor of historic preservation, you need to spread that out throughout the state," Clark said.
Vermillion could benefit greatly with a greater allocation from the Deadwood fund.
"For example, we could work with the stone band shell in Prentis Park, and get that fixed up as an outdoor stage," she said. "That would be great in the summertime to have things going on there."
South Dakota, and particularly District 17, home of The University of South Dakota, would benefit greatly from a Children of Alumni Scholarship, Clark said.
"That�s so important, and I got that through the Legislature, but it got vetoed by the governor," she said. "It has long-term benefits. It's just so important to bring students back here to the state.
"All of these things are economic development tools, but the Children of Alumni (Scholarship) is one of the most important," Clark said, because South Dakota must find ways to promote an in-migration of people.
"Even if you kept every single student here � if you took the numbers of people that are graduating from high schools in South Dakota and kept everyone of them here � you still wouldn't fill up all of the universities,� Clark said, "so we've got to start bringing some people back and the Children of Alumni Scholarship is a good way to do it."
Clark said it is important for voters in District 17 to view candidates in the upcoming election for the long-term potential they can offer to constituents.
"I think the voters in this district need to consider who, among the candidates, can protect the interests of USD," she said. "I think you need to have somebody up there (in Pierre) who knows how the system works and who can get in there and be able to fight and protect those interests."
Clark was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1998 for two terms. She was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee for four years.
Clark is one of three South Dakota legislators competitively selected each year to attend the Council of State Governments Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development in Madison, WI.
"I think another thing we need to do is protect the small town communities in the state, and that is where economic development comes in," she said. "If you don't have a viable economic base in our small communities, you can try all sorts of things as a band-aid approach. But you have to have a strong economic base or nothing is going to happen in the long term."
The South Dakota Legislature also must make sure that schools have the resources to help students excel.
"Our school systems need to have on their agenda to produce the best educated students," Clark said. "It does take money, and it takes a commitment from everybody, but that's going to be our goal.
"If we don't have a strong university and we don't have strong communities and good students," she said, "then there is no incentive for people to invest here or for young people to stay here." Clark was born in Baltimore, MD, and grew up in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore. She attended American University (School of International Service) in Washington, DC and graduated with a bachelor�s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Clark has served as executive director of Vermillion United Way, and now works as as a volunteer for Vermillion Beautiful, Inc. She founded the non-profit community group Vermillion Beautiful, Inc. which plants over 5,000 flowers and trees every year in Vermillion.
Clark is a member of the Clay County Historical Society, and helped initiate the "Walk for Wellness" program with Sioux Valley Hospital and three local stores to encourage indoor walking for health.
She is highly involved in several community organizations:
Clark serves on the executive board of SESDAC, Inc., a service provider for developmentally disabled individuals.
She is vice chair of the Rural Office of Community Services (ROCS) Board, which provides services such as senior meals and bus transportation, winterization and other services for the elderly and underprivileged. Clark is also on the Vermillion senior meal site advisory council and is a member of the Bishop�s Committee of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
She is an appointed member of the Vermillion Planning Commission for seven years, and also serves on the Vermillion Streetscape Committee. She is a member of the advisory council of USD's W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership.
While a member of the South Dakota House, Clark initiated the first Republican House Caucus Retreat. The retreat is a pre-session gathering of legislators for an in-depth discussion of issues, and was held at USD.
Clark and her husband, Dean, live in a 1902 house in the historic district in Vermillion. They have four children, Dawn, Dean, Robert and James, who is a junior at USD.