Mobridge Tribune

KATIE ZERR: Representatives need to understand our lives

It has been nearly 30 years since I moved from the city of Minneapolis back to the Mobridge.
It was a temporary move. I had planned to move on to Bozeman, Montana, to work at a radio station. I had just graduated from the now closed Brown Institute of Broadcasting and was all set for a new adventure in life. But family intervened and my three-month stay in Mobridge has now lasted nearly 30 years.
Not that I am complaining, I have enjoyed living back here. The peace of rural life after living in the city for 20 years was a bit hard to get used to but after a while, I relished in it.
Lately, with my puppy, I have been spending more time outside visiting with my neighbors, getting to know about the newer residents of the neighborhood and watching the “goings on” along the street.
I guess I am getting ready for retirement.
This is a round-about way of getting to the importance of a legislative redistricting meeting that was held in Mobridge on Tuesday. As I listened to the testimony of the people I have come to know and respect in our communities, I realized the importance of what they were telling legislators who are members of the redistricting committee.
Issues in a concentrated population area and those in a sparsely populated area are as different as night and day.
That is why it is so important that the representation from this part of South Dakota remain rural. We have a whole plate of differing issues than those who live in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen or Watertown. It is different from the southeast or southwest corners of the state and even different than living in Pierre.
We are all South Dakotans. We care for our families and neighbors but helping a neighbor in northcentral South Dakota is much different that helping a neighbor in an apartment building in Aberdeen.
First of all, next door has a whole different meaning here. Next door can mean five miles down the road here, not 20 steps down the hall.
It can mean packing up the horse at 4:30 a.m. to help your neighbor move a herd of cattle from one pasture to the next for the winter.
Helping a neighbor can mean hopping into a combine and putting in 12-hour days to ensure a neighbor’s crop gets in after an accident or illness.
It can mean helping an elderly neighbor paint their home or using your equipment to help a neighbor dig out from under two feet of heavy spring snow.
It can mean picking up equipment parts for neighbor because you had planned a trip to Aberdeen or Bismarck when your neighbor is busy with calving or with a kid’s sporting or music event.
Our lives are just different than those who live in an area where there is a convenience store on every other corner.
I am not saying those who live in urban areas of South Dakota are not the same as we are, I am saying their lives are different. It is important that we have representation from people who know about the differences.
It is important to have someone who knows why the job of the Department of Transportation is different here than it is in the southeast or southwest corner of our state.
We need someone who understands the importance of having a critical care hospital in a community where our neighbors can get the immediate care they need or be prepared to make a longer trip for specialized care.
We need someone who understands the link between agriculture and our people.
There is something a bit different about people whose lives are connected to the soil and to their animals.
We need to be represented by someone who has made a living off the land or has family or friends that do.
When Rick Cain told the committee we need to be represented by someone who feels this area in their gut, it was the perfect description.
District 23 has had rural representation for decades and it is important that it stays that way.
That is not an insult to our neighbors in Aberdeen or Pierre. It is an acknowledgement that our lives are a bit different.
Information on the redistricting process can be found at

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