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Volesky Drops Out of S.D. Governor's Race

RAPID CITY, S.D. ñ Ron Volesky was the first candidate to announce his intentions to run for governor of South Dakota, and the first to drop out.

Volesky, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, served in the state Legislature for many years on the Democratic side of the aisle and was a candidate for governor four years ago, only to lose in the primary election. He was then tapped by the Democrats to run against present Attorney General Larry Long.

Volesky, who was a gubernatorial candidate for 100 days, said current Republican Gov. Mike Rounds has collected more than $1.5 million in campaign contributions, which is much more than Volesky said he could gather.

ìItís unfortunate; it comes down to money.î

Volesky said there are a lot of issues that affect Indian country, and he hopes the Democratic candidate will raise those issues during the campaign.

Dr. Jack Billion, of Sioux Falls, is the Democratic candidate for governor. Since the Democratic convention has not been held, the Democratic Party does not endorse any candidate until then.

Barring any changes to the ballot, Rounds and Billion will square off in November.

ìThere are a lot of issues to keep in the forefront. Indian gaming and job development are important,î Volesky said.

ìI think in Indian country economic development, for a long time, was impressed on the state Legislature. I promoted the creation of an economic development commission to help create jobs for young people. Without that economic base we will be poverty-stricken, and poverty generates a lot of side issues.î

Volesky served for many years in the state House and Senate.

ìThe state needs to be more active to help increase success in area of Indian education, particularly about the dropout rates. I know the governor set up the office of Indian education and we need to make sure the office is active and well-funded,î he said.

Indian gaming is another area of importance to Volesky, and especially the compact situation. Tribes with casinos in the state are limited to 250 gaming devices and tribes are struggling to work out a compact deal with the governor to increase that number; the governor will not negotiate, tribal leaders say.

ìThatís why one of the things I promoted during the [2002 gubernatorial] campaign is to set up a task force with state, tribal and federal officials and get hold of Indian gaming.

ìTribal sovereignty has to be respected and everyone needs to understand when setting up [gaming] compacts it is done for the benefit of all parties concerned.î

Volesky will not be watching the campaigns too far from the sidelines. He encourages American Indian voters to get involved in the electoral process, whether on the state, local or federal level.

ìWe need more to get to the polls. I want to impress upon citizens in Indian country [the need] to get out there and register and get to the polls and vote.

ìI can see how the Indian vote becomes more important all the time: We can have a greater voice and get a higher percentage of Indian voters to the polls.î

If Volesky would give the upcoming candidates for governor of all parties any advice, it would be to get out and reach each of the reservations, visit with the elders and tribal leaders and get a real feel for Indian country.

ìWe sometimes get a lot of people who run for office, they talk about how they want to help the Indian communities, then after the election the promises go unfulfilled,î Volesky said.

ìI think they wonít go unfulfilled if the Indian people show they are serious in the political process.î

Volesky has been a name in the Democratic Party for many years, and his withdrawal from his drive for the governorís office will not be his final days in politics.

He said he would remain open to political office in the future, and he said there are some people interested in his possible run for attorney general again.

ìI will remain active and not rule anything out,î Volesky said.

RAPID CITY, S.D. ñ Ron Volesky was the first candidate to announce his intentions to run for governor of South Dakota, and the first to drop out.Volesky, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, served in the state Legislature for many years on the Democratic side of the aisle and was a candidate for governor four years ago, only to lose in the primary election. He was then tapped by the Democrats to run against present Attorney General Larry Long.Volesky, who was a gubernatorial candidate for 100 days, said current Republican Gov. Mike Rounds has collected more than $1.5 million in campaign contributions, which is much more than Volesky said he could gather.ìItís unfortunate; it comes down to money.îVolesky said there are a lot of issues that affect Indian country, and he hopes the Democratic candidate will raise those issues during the campaign.Dr. Jack Billion, of Sioux Falls, is the Democratic candidate for governor. Since the Democratic convention has not been held, the Democratic Party does not endorse any candidate until then.Barring any changes to the ballot, Rounds and Billion will square off in November.ìThere are a lot of issues to keep in the forefront. Indian gaming and job development are important,î Volesky said.ìI think in Indian country economic development, for a long time, was impressed on the state Legislature. I promoted the creation of an economic development commission to help create jobs for young people. Without that economic base we will be poverty-stricken, and poverty generates a lot of side issues.îVolesky served for many years in the state House and Senate.ìThe state needs to be more active to help increase success in area of Indian education, particularly about the dropout rates. I know the governor set up the office of Indian education and we need to make sure the office is active and well-funded,î he said.Indian gaming is another area of importance to Volesky, and especially the compact situation. Tribes with casinos in the state are limited to 250 gaming devices and tribes are struggling to work out a compact deal with the governor to increase that number; the governor will not negotiate, tribal leaders say.ìThatís why one of the things I promoted during the [2002 gubernatorial] campaign is to set up a task force with state, tribal and federal officials and get hold of Indian gaming.ìTribal sovereignty has to be respected and everyone needs to understand when setting up [gaming] compacts it is done for the benefit of all parties concerned.îVolesky will not be watching the campaigns too far from the sidelines. He encourages American Indian voters to get involved in the electoral process, whether on the state, local or federal level.ìWe need more to get to the polls. I want to impress upon citizens in Indian country [the need] to get out there and register and get to the polls and vote.ìI can see how the Indian vote becomes more important all the time: We can have a greater voice and get a higher percentage of Indian voters to the polls.îIf Volesky would give the upcoming candidates for governor of all parties any advice, it would be to get out and reach each of the reservations, visit with the elders and tribal leaders and get a real feel for Indian country.ìWe sometimes get a lot of people who run for office, they talk about how they want to help the Indian communities, then after the election the promises go unfulfilled,î Volesky said.ìI think they wonít go unfulfilled if the Indian people show they are serious in the political process.îVolesky has been a name in the Democratic Party for many years, and his withdrawal from his drive for the governorís office will not be his final days in politics.He said he would remain open to political office in the future, and he said there are some people interested in his possible run for attorney general again.ìI will remain active and not rule anything out,î Volesky said.