Locals received the opportunity to publicly give their thanks to U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) Oct. 29.
Johnson stopped by the Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library as part of his statewide “Tour of Thanks.”
“Regardless of your politics, I am grateful that we have traveled this road together. Thank you,” Johnson said in front of a crowd of about 50.
Johnson announced last year he would not seek re-election in 2014. Republican Mike Rounds, Democrat Rick Weiland and Independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie are currently vying to fill Johnson’s seat.
The audience, some holding signs thanking the senator, watched a biographical video about Johnson, heard statements from Johnson and others and had the opportunity to thank him one-on-one.
Johnson said his retirement is “bittersweet” and promised the crowd he will continue working until his last day in office.
While others thanked him, Johnson took the opportunity to highlight Vermillion, along with the University of South Dakota.
“I am very proud of the work we have done together, and Vermillion will always have a special place in my heart,” Johnson said.
James Abbott, president of USD, publicly applauded Johnson’s career and contributions to the state.
“It would be difficult, I think, to overstate the importance of Tim Johnson to the state of South Dakota, the city of Vermillion and the University of South Dakota,” Abbott said.
He also said Johnson, who he first met in the fall of 1966, is a statesman in addition to a politician.
“Tim Johnson knew how to get things done, he knows now how to get things done and I suspect he will always know how to get things done for our state, our city and our university,” Abbott said.
Junior Brenden Bauman attended the tour stop because he heard about it from the USD College Democrats.
“Johnson has always been a big name in our state and a big name in (my) family,” Bauman said. “I’ve never been old enough to vote for him, but he’s always had my family’s support. I couldn’t afford to miss the chance to meet what is relatively a legend in this state.”
(Photo: South Dakota Democratic Senator Tim Johnson speaks to constituents at the Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library Oct. 29 as a part of this “Tour of Thanks”. Johnson said his impending retirement is “bittersweet” and promised the crowd he would continue working until his last day in office. Braley Dodson / The Volante)