Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth stopped in Vermillion last week one of the final in his ongoing tour promoting his candidacy to unseat U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (D-SD) next year.
Barth, 59, met with locals on Friday, Aug. 26, at the Vermillion Public Library, where he said the job of an elected official is not to represent the taxpayer exclusively.
My job is to take care of the people, some of whom cant vote, some of whom do pay taxes, some of whom dont pay taxes, he said. My job is to take care of all those people.
As a muddy boots on the ground county commissioner, I think Im precisely the contrast to this Tea Party princess that weve currently got representing her faction of the Republican Party in Washington, DC, he said.
A retired 31-year employee of Qwest (formerly Northwestern Bell and U.S. West) where he worked as a union official and then manager Barth announced his candidacy Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Chief among his criticisms was the Tea Party, which he said represents the wealthy to the disadvantage of the common people.
Their efforts to destabilize our president have effectively destabilized our world economy and our country, Barth said. In their efforts to win the class warfare of taking money from Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and give additional large tax breaks to their friends who are in face the puppet masters, the plutocrats who have paid their way and bribed their way into power. I just find that very objectionable.
Kristi Noem proclaimed herself a Tea Party person, acted as a Tea Party person (and) supported the Tea Party in their efforts to get Barack Obama. She needs to go, he said.
In making their top priority to get rid of Barack Obama, Barth said, they have let the country down.
Now, I was never a fan of George W. Bush, but I sure hoped he was right and I was wrong. I sure hoped that his policies would succeed and America would be the better for it, he said. The idea of going out with the express purpose of getting rid of our president and making him fail, to damage our country thats wrong. Thats not very American.
Barth also took issue with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, particularly in light of the death panel rumors leveled at the Obama administration over its proposed health care reform.
As Daugaard and Kristi Noem and their Tea Party buddies cut funding for these types of programs whats going to happen to grandma sitting in the nursing home? Are we just going to roll her out on the street? Are we going to cut food? Are we going to cut care? The true death panel is the Republican Party and the Tea Party working together to dismantle those safety nets, he said.
Noem defeated three-term representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin in 2010.
Barth said he plans to spend at least $100,000 on his primary campaign, and approximately $1 million more if he receives the Democratic nomination.
I dont expect Ill be able to raise the $4 million that Kristi Noem will be able to raise, he said.
The son of a diplomat, Barth grew up in various European and African nations, as well as the Washington, DC, area. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1976-1982, and has lived in Minnehaha County since 1984.
Barth was elected to the Minnehaha County Commission in 2006. He currently is on his second term as a commissioner.
He and his wife Sherrie have two married daughters and four grandchildren.
On introducing Barth at the meeting Friday, Clay County Commissioner Jerry Wilson said, All of my experience with Jeff shows that hes a fair-minded, balanced, good thinker and a leader.
Wilson did offer one caveat, however.
Im not sure about this, but I dont think he has enough speeding tickets to qualify, he joked, in reference to the driving record of Noem, as well as former governor and U.S. Rep. William Janklow.
Barth said Friday was the end of his first campaign swing, but said he would be back out on the road again after Labor Day.
He added that he hopes he will be able to make a difference for the state.
I think that if you can make it a little bit better, youre better off, he said. Just because you cant do it all doesnt mean you shouldnt do anything. I think we can make it better.
For more information, visit www.jeffbarth.com.